Tim Ream has been in fine form for the Cottagers this season.
The American international has played a key role for Fulham this season as part of a strong centre-back duo with Denis Odoi.
He only missed two league games this season, with his role in the team gradually increasing ever since he joined from Bolton Wanderers back in 2015.
The 30-year-old has been a top performer, with his passing accuracy and range just as his important as his defensive contributions. However, the most important game of the entire season against Aston Villa awaits him and the team.
Here’s what Ream had to say about his season so far to NBC Soccer: “I’ve played 46 games now, and the performances and form that I’ve been on – not just from the start of the undefeated run, but going back to the beginning of the year.
“I don’t think there’s anybody that can question the level that I’ve been playing at and question whether it’s the best in my career, because it is without a doubt.
“The Sunderland result when we lost at their place in December was a real eye opener for us. They hadn’t won at home in over a year and we go there and lose 1-0. If I had to point to anything, that was the catalyst for the turnaround because we were so embarrassed and so angry at ourselves because we knew we were a better squad than we were showing.”
Fulham were unlucky not to finish in an automatic promotion spot, and their style of play deserves to be in the Premier League. However, they only have themselves to blame because they started the season slowly and then were unable to overcome the last hurdle, which was Birmingham.
Ream will be key in ensuring Fulham force their style on Villa, so him and Odoi will have to hold a high line, as they usually do, and they can’t afford to make mistakes on such a large pitch due to the space the Villa attackers will be able to exploit.
The Cottagers need to be brave in this match because their possession based philosophy has got them so far and they can’t turn back on it now.