Preview: Villa (v) Fulham – Two wins in a week? Could you handle it?

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You could have be mistaken for thinking that we had won a major honour, such was the outpouring of joy and jubilation after our great late victory over Reading.  

Indeed, if you still read the Birmingham Mail, you’re likely still perusing your pull-out memorial click-bait edition.

Still, it was a deserved and essential victory.  However, alas, it is just one win.  As great a feeling as it may be, we now need more of that winning feeling.

Given our slide in recent seasons, wins have been few and far between.  So few, that they can literally be recalled upon fingers and thumbs (with room to spare).

We now though move towards an unusually appetising fixture against Fulham; eager to tease ourselves towards a notion of “momentum”.

That word, momentum, is something The Villa Underground used frequently, both on these pages and early season on the Podcast, as it will underpin our fortunes.

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In short, as great as victories over Reading might be, they will count for little if they aren’t backed up with more of the same.  And a winning mentality?  That’s the ethos that we need to rediscover as a football club.

For too many years we have shrugged our shoulders at failure, been apathetic to decline and rarely held our ineptitude to account.  

Equally, when we have had an opportunity to progress, in the Martin O’Neill Era for instance, we flippantly squandered our chance.

Perhaps for the first time we have a single minded owner, who at the very least it might be hoped will rub some of his optimism and ambition off onto the players.

Fulham might just appear like another run of the mill Championship fixture, but as mentioned above, it carries importance to us.

Suddenly we can reach the dizzying heights of 12th assuming results go our favour.  All it takes is a win.

As has been pointed out widely in social media, press and fan chatter in general, we are remarkably only 6 points from the playoff spots.

That tells us a great deal about the consistency within the division, but also that all isn’t lost by a long distance.  There’s something to be fought for.

Whilst I think  it’s reasonable to suggest that Norwich & Newcastle are now fully into their strides, there is no “third” challenger that stands out.  Brighton are a mainstay at the top end of The Championship, but early season pace-setters Huddersfield are now fading.

Fulham currently sit 11th & are unbeaten in their last six games on the road.  That translates into no defeats away this season.

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Their form makes interesting examination, with their season appearing to be on a broadly downward trend, or one which could easily settle in the middle part of The Championship.

By contrast, for the first time in a long time it feels, we go into a game of football with some genuine optimism.  Indeed, that sense of positivity appears justified on the face of it.

Bruce, newly installed, appears undeterred by a mix of injuries and underperforming personalities, fielding a team at Reading to do a job.

Equally, Villa displayed decent tactical nous for a change, swapping players like for like rather than embarking upon hopeless attempts to simply throw on more forwards in search of a winner.

Saturday could be interesting, but we could really set our season belatedly alight if we could secure another three points at Villa Park.

Predictions:

2-1 to Villa.

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