Are Fulham top two contenders if they beat Aston Villa?

Slavisa Jokanovic, manager of Fulham looks on prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Burton Albion at Craven Cottage on January 20, 2018 in London, England.

The race for promotion is beginning to hot up in the Championship.

Ryan Sessegnon of Fulham celebrates scoring his sides fifth goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Burton Albion at Craven Cottage on January 20, 2018 in London,...

Fulham host Aston Villa in the Championship this weekend, in a crucial game which could have a big say on who will be promoted. 

Aston Villa climbed into second spot with victory against bitter rivals Birmingham City last weekend, while the Cottagers are in fifth place and on a run of nine games unbeaten. 

Fulham are just seven points behind Villa in second so a win could see them close the gap to four points with 14 games still to play. 

Ryan Sessegnon of Fulham celebrates with his teammates after scoring his sides fourth goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Burton Albion at Craven Cottage on...

Derby County, who are third, are a point behind Villa but have played a game more so, if Slavisa Jokanovic's side beat the Villans, they will go within three points of the Rams. Cardiff City are also on the same number of points as Derby, they host Middlesbrough this weekend and Tony Pulis's side will not be easy to take three points from. 

Fulham went on a similar run in the second half of last season to climb into the play-off places, so they have proved they are capable of sustaining a run of form. Should they produce a similar run to last season, they could really threaten the top two positions and victory over the team who currently hold the second automatic promotion spot will certainly be a huge statement of intent. 

Slavisa Jokanovic, manager of Fulham looks on prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Burton Albion at Craven Cottage on January 20, 2018 in London, England.

Jokanovic will not want to suffer play-off heartache for a second consecutive season and will have what has happened to Sheffield Wednesday after their two failed play-off campaigns in the back of his mind, potentially using that as motivation to push for second place rather than look over their shoulders. 

One thing is for certain: a Fulham win will blow the promotion race wide open. 

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