Villa v Fulham preview stat pack: Agbonlahor key in Cottagers clash
The claret and blues have hosted Fulham in the Premier League on 11 occasions, with the Cottagers never coming away with more than a point.
Villa have won seven of those encounters, but only two of the 12 Premier League matches they've played at Craven Cottage, so home advantage is clearly crucial when the two go head-to-head.
You have to go all the way back to 1973 for Fulham's last league win at Villa Park, so the omens are good.
Villa also come into the game in their best run of form all season, with only Liverpool, Arsenal and United able to pick more wins over their last seven league games than Paul Lambert's side (4).
Indeed, Villa have only lost three of their last eight matches, all coming against sides in the top seven of the division.
However, Fulham have also only lost three in the same number of matches. It looks set to be a tight match.
The hosts' best outlet against a Fulham side who keep the ball well will probably come on the counter attack, and from wide areas in particular.
Martin Jol's side tend to orchestrate a lot of their play down the middle of the pitch, but the loss of former Villan Steve Sidwell through suspension will be a blow to the visitors.
Only three sides have focused a higher proportion of their attacks through central areas than Fulham (31%).
In comparison, only three sides have done so less often than Villa (27%), with Lambert's Lions advancing down the left flank 37% of the time.
The fact that Fulham lean more towards the right when attacking (37% of the time) could leave room for man in form Gabby Agbonlahor to exploit any forward forays from Sascha Reither. Agbonlahor has netted in five of his last eight league starts.
A Villan through and through, the forward has hit a purple patch just at the right time as far as boss Lambert is concerned. He is back to what he does best.
The 26-year-old has averaged twice as many shots per game (two to one) since the turn of the year, and completed over three times as many dribbles on average (1.4 to 0.4).
Agbonlahor has scored three goals in his last six games against Fulham and, having forged a potent strike force with Christian Benteke and Andi Weimann, is looking as sharp as ever.
His appearance in the line-up has been key all season, with Villa losing just 37% of the 19 games he has started this season compared to 61.5% when he hasn't been in the XI.
With Sunderland facing Newcastle and Wigan not playing until midweek this will be another great opportunity for Gabby and co. to move further clear of the drop zone.
It certainly won't be easy, with the form of Dimitar Berbatov likely to be a big factor in the match, but the hosts should nevertheless have their sights on a ninth win of the season.
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