Fulham 0 - Aston Villa

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 13: John Arne Riise of Fulham crosses the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Aston Villa at Craven Cottage on August 13, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

There was almost an air of inevitability that upon the grand unveiling of Martin Jol's new look, attacking football spectacle on the greatest of stages, the exhibition would disappoint. Fulham's drab 0-0 draw with Aston Villa certainly did.

With our European qualifying exploits now safely behind us - a week and a half is quite a drag in football - many had set their faith in a Fulham win, but, true to form, Villa travelled south with the intention of battling and certainly did so admirably. While there will be little of any authenticity for Alex McLeish to take from his first game in charge at Villa, he should at the very least be content with taking a point from one of the more troublesome grounds to visit in the Premier League.

Jol, watching over his first Premier League game since his infamous dismissal from Tottenham in 2007, had plenty to be pleased with but even more to be frustrated with, John Arne Riise spurning the first of many wondrous opportunities. Danny Murphy, as always instrumental in his captain role, provided a pass of borderline perfection for the Norwegian, only for Riise to opt for power over the simplicity of placement. Shay Given, who ended up enjoying a most pleasing début, would have been happy to see the former Liverpool man's shot blaze over the bar.

Villa stepped into the game a little following the scare, Heskey heading over from eight yards, but in truth, the game didn't live up to its opening day billing. Stilyian Petrov joined Damien Duff in a list of players who fired hard from long distance but to no avail - clearly the defences winning the majority of tussles.

Given was, however, astutely tested by the ever-menacing Andrew Johnson, who turned and fired hard, only for the Irishman to parry towards a flurry of Claret and Blue shirts, whom hurriedly cleared. 

The first half drew to a close and whilst words of wisdom will have been passed by both newly acclimatising managers, neither team came out particularly devilishly. Zamora forced  two respectable saves from Given before being replaced by Moussa Dembele - a man recently returned from injury. With only twenty minutes to go, though, the Belgian striker had little opportunity to make a substantial impact on the game, and as much is clear in the final scoreline. 

A 0-0 draw may not have been the perfect opening to our Premier League campaign, but then again, spare a thought for QPR. 

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