The writing is usually on the wall for the team that sits in last place in the Premier League on Christmas day. However, as everybody knows, Aston Villa isn’t an ‘ordinary’ team.
The future may seem bleak for Aston Villa Football Club, as all paths are seemingly leading to the Championship. Nevertheless, some Villa fans, including myself, are still holding on to the hope, slight as it may be, that we’ve can somehow avoid the Premier League trap door.
Next on the menu is West Ham United. The Hammers are making their way up to B6 in search of their first win in almost two months. When I think of West Ham United, I think of a team which is now going to challenge for a top ten finish, within reach of a Europa League qualification place. However, inconsistency is the Hammers’ downfall. During the season they’ll go on a good run, beating teams that they aren’t expected to beat and then, all of a sudden, they’ll start losing matches.
Unfortunately for the Hammers, injury has plagued the Londoners this season as striker Diafra Sakho is still out for a few months.
Winston Reid, a player who is considered an important member of West Ham’s defence, is also not ready for action and is ruled out for the game against Villa.
The most important injury, however, is definitely the one suffered by Dimitri Payet. The brilliant play-maker has been ruled out for a couple of months now, which is good news for Villa fans as he would have been extremely difficult to contain, as proven by his form before his nasty ankle injury. He has started light training again so it won’t be long before he returns to Premier League action. Lanzini is also another player who looked to fill the role left by Payet, however he picked up an injury last week and will miss out this weekend.
As mentioned before, West Ham United haven’t won a Premier League game in the last two months. Despite that, they are still eighth in the league table.
For the first time in their history, they’ve drawn the last three league games 0-0. Of the last five games, they’ve drawn four on the bounce (against Swansea City, Stoke City, Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion) and lost to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
During the Hammers’ last five visits to Villa Park, Aston Villa have won three games, West Ham United won once back in 2014 and the teams also played out a goalless draw a few seasons ago.
Ones to watch
Despite their injury troubles, the Hammers still have players who can cause us trouble. Enner Valencia’s return to the team has been a welcome one for the Hammers as he looks to rekindle his form from earlier this season. The pacey forward scored four goals in the league before his lengthy lay off and may start the game.
Andy Carroll loves to play against Aston Villa, as every time he does he seems to score. This week may not be different as he looks to push for a starting place. Slavan Bilic may start him and look to play through the channels, with crosses coming in for him to attack. If Okore and Lescott start in central defence as expected, they will need to be on top of their games to stop Carroll attacking the ball.