Aston Villa v West Ham United – the preview

In Match Previews

With Tim Sherwood giving the club a new lease of life and the FA Cup final just three weeks away, it is sometimes easy to forget that the Villans remain in a precarious position. Despite winning two of their last three Premier League games, the drama at the foot of the table means that Sherwood’s side remains only two points above the drop zone so a win tomorrow could prove to be a significant stride towards safety.

April’s player of the month, Christian Benteke, is currently enjoying a purple patch and will seek to add to his goal tally and avoid a repeat of November’s bore draw at Upton Park when faced with youngster Reece Burke, who is expected to start again this weekend as Allardyce deals with an injury-riddled West Ham defence.

The Villans failed to score in four of their last five games against the Hammers so let’s hope Benteke’s impressive form will see that statistic altered.

With Allardyce’s Irons managing to score only four goals in their last eight games, most people’s money seems to be on a home win tomorrow afternoon but, as we know only too well, football is a funny old game and I expect twists and turns to come in the relegation dogfight.

Recent form:

Aston Villa: W L W D L
West Ham United: W D L D L

Team news:

It is thought that Agbonlahor will be named as a substitute on his return from a hamstring injury that has kept him out of action for almost a month.

Baker and Clark (both knee) will not feature.

Kozak (leg) is not yet ready to return to competitive action.
Possible line-up:

Given
Bacuna     Okore     Vlaar     Richardson
Cleverley     Westwood     Delph
Grealish     N’Zogbia
Benteke

The opposition:

Andy Carroll’s talk of European football now appears to have been rather premature, although the Hammers could still qualify for the Europa League thanks to the additional place awarded to England. After a promising start to the 2014-15 season, the Hammers have had troubles of their own since Christmas. Facing a rejuvenated side at Villa Park, they could well struggle to improve their away form. While they have not won any of their last ten games on the road, we must not forget that the Hammers’ win at Villa Park last season, courtesy of Kevin Nolan, ended a six game winless streak.

Defenders Guy Demel (calf), Winston Reid (hamstring) and James Tomkins (shoulder) will not be fit in time for tomorrow’s game.

James Collins (back) is expected to return.

Andy Carroll (knee) and Diafro Sakho (thigh) will not be available.

Alex Song, a substitute last weekend, could be recalled to the starting XI following a back injury.

Match information:

Referee: Lee Mason
Venue: Villa Park
Kick-off: 3p.m.
Tickets: Tickets still available, priced from £25 – £42 for adults
Last meeting: 8th November 2014: West Ham United 0 – Aston Villa 0

Predictions:

2-0 – Mark Lawrenson
3-1 – Paul Merson
2-1 – AnneMc

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