Matt Targett aiming to pile pressure on old friends when Aston Villa visit Fulham

Villa defender Matt Targett is aiming to pile more pressure on old friends at Fulham on Monday.

Matt Targett (left) spent six months on loan at Fulham in 2018.
Matt Targett (left) spent six months on loan at Fulham in 2018.

Targett spent six months on loan with the Cottagers from Southampton in 2018, playing in the team which beat Steve Bruce’s Villa in that year’s Championship play-off final.

But his loyalties are now firmly with Villa following a £14million move 12 months later and he is eager to start the current season with back-to-back Premier League wins.

Fulham, who were again promoted through the play-offs in August, have lost their opening two matches back in the top flight with Villa, who narrowly avoided the drop last term, keen to show they can challenge higher up the table.

Targett said: “If you look at games on paper then you target Fulham and say that is a game you want to win. We want to kick on from last season and push further up the league.

“They are a newly promoted team who have had a difficult start so far, losing both of their league games. We want to go there and put more pressure on them.

“I enjoyed my time with Fulham. I speak to a few of the players still and it will be nice to see the old coaches that were there. But on Monday night I want the bragging rights.”

Targett claims there is currently a ‘feelgood factor’ around Bodymoor Heath after a transfer window which has already seen Villa spend more than £75m on new players, while both Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings have signed new contracts.

Dean Smith’s team, who claimed a 1-0 win over Sheffield United in last Monday’s Premier League opener, are also through to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup following a 3-0 victory at Bristol City on Thursday night.

Targett was one of 12 new signings in the months following the club’s promotion last year and believes increased experience, coupled with the new additions, means Villa are well placed to kick on.

The club broke their transfer record with the £28m capture of striker Ollie Watkins from Brentford while goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has joined from Arsenal in a £20m deal.

Another of the new players, winger Bertrand Traore, marked his debut in Thursday’s cup tie with a stunning goal.

“The new signings have been a breath of fresh air and have added that extra bit of quality to the squad,” said Targett.

“Jack and Tyrone signing new contracts was massive. It puts out a statement of what the club wants and where it is going.

“There were a lot of new faces last year. If you look at our performances and results after lockdown, we had the extra time together, we knew each other better and we performed better.

“You just have to look at Douglas Luiz’s performances when we came back, he was exceptional.

“Having that year together we are only going to grow and get better. If you look at the squad now, the ages of the players, we are all at a good age and we are only going to get stronger the more time we have together.

“With the new faces that have come in, they are at a good age too. There are going to be exciting times ahead, for sure.

“We have to kick on from last season, looking back we know it was a tough year and we need to push on.

“We have not really set targets but we certainly don’t want to be anywhere near a relegation battle again.”

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