Opposition Focus: Aston Villa

Image: EFL

Form: As nice a run of form as you could ask for heading into the final. Villa haven’t lost since early April and put together a good run at the end, including impressive victories away at Ipswich and at home to Cardiff City. They come into the game today having beaten Middlesbrough 1-0 over two legs. Mile Jedinak’s goal at The Riverside in the first leg enough to take them to Wembley.

Formation: Played with a 4-3-3 in the playoffs but have been known to change things up a bit over the course of the season. I personally think they will go with a 3-5-2 formation to something similar to what Derby did against us in the first leg, except this time, utilising the likes of Alan Hutton as a wing-back, rather than Derby using wingers to provide the width.

Dangerman: John Terry – I know this won’t go down well with most Fulham fans reading this, but when it comes to on-the-pitch matters, John Terry is one of the few Chelsea/ex-Chelsea players that I had any time/respect for. John Terry has been arguably the best English centre-half this century and has fully deserved every single bit of praise that has come his way. A lot has been made before the game about how our team doesn’t have any ‘Wembley experience’ and I do think it’ll play a factor and this man will be the driving force behind that.

Battle to watch: John Terry v Aleksander Mitrovic – having said that, I think the game will be won or lost on who comes out best in this battle. In the very first opposition focus I did, I focused on Richard Stearman v Mitrovic (an old-fashioned centre-half verses an old-fashioned centre-forward battle) and I believe this Saturday will provide us with another great matchup. John Terry has experience and a good footballing brain, but Mitrovic will have more energy & pace to counter that.

Prediction: This is a tough one. Every single argument in my head I can make for Fulham to win this game is being countered by a very convincing ‘yeah well Villa can do X, Y & Z to stop us’ and it’s really making it hard to pick a convincing winner. I think this game will go to extra time and when you consider that it is meant to be a scorcher at Wembley on Saturday, that’s where I think our more youthful team will be able to take advantage of some tired Villa legs.

Fulham 2 – 1 Villa (AET)