After crashing out of the FA Cup on Saturday against a dominant Manchester City side, the focus now turns back to the Premier League. The Villans will travel down to London to face the Hammers for the first game of the month and their last ever game at the Boleyn Ground.
Before Saturday’s FA Cup tie, the Villans were undefeated in five games in all competitions. Garde seemed to have stopped the rot and the team was actually starting to look like a cohesive unit. Unfortunately, the game against Manchester City came at the wrong time as it was clear who the winner was going to be before a ball was even kicked. The best the Villans could have hoped for was a draw, as injuries and team rotation due to a congested fixture list meant that Garde was not going to put out a full strength starting XI. Unfortunately, the 4-0 loss killed Villa’s momentum. Hopefully it won’t have a knock on effect for today’s game.
Venue: Boleyn Ground
Date: Tuesday 2nd February 2016
Kick-off: 7:45p.m. (Live on BT Sport 1)
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Tickets: Away allocation has sold out
Unfortunately, the injuries for Villa have added up in the last couple of days and will affect how Garde sets his team up.
Carlos Sánchez and Alan Hutton are doubts for the game as they both look to recover from hamstring injuries.
Libor Kozák took a kick to his ankle in the last game but will have a late fitness test before the game.
Rudy Gestede will be out because of a hamstring strain sustained last week.
Ashley Westwood may miss out due to a calf problem, while Jordan Amavi and Adama Traoré remain long term absentees.
The Hammers will be without versatile James Tomkins as he had to receive stitches in his head after a collision with another player in the last game against Liverpool.
Sam Byram, once rumoured to be on Villa’s radar, may take Tomkins’ place in the side after being not being available for selection due to being cup-tied.
Emmanuel Emenike, West Ham’s new loan signing, will miss out due to issues with international clearance.
Andy Carroll will miss out due to a hamstring injury, as will Diafra Sakho and Manuel Lanzini, leaving manager Slaven Bilić a little light up front.
The danger man:
Dimitri Payet is a fantastic footballer who possesses world class skills on the ball. The Villa midfield will have to pay close attention to him as he’s usually given license to have a free role on the pitch. Our midfielders will have to remember not to dive in against Payet, as his skills on the ball will give any decent defender little to no chance of winning the ball cleanly. The former Marseille player has a high work-rate and keeps the ball in possession really well. He also has an eye for a goal and will look to get into the box at every opportunity. The Villans will have to be careful on set pieces too, as he is considered a free kick specialist and has scored a few direct free kicks for West Ham United this season.
Enner Valencia is another player the Villans will have to pay close attention to. The pacey forward is strong on and off the ball and will look to get in behind the Villa defence, as well as challenging for any high balls into the box. Despite not having the best of scoring records, Valencia is a threat and should not be given too much time on the ball.
The Villans are unbeaten in their last last three Premier League games (D W D) and have only lost one of the last five games in all competitions (L D W D W).
However, during the last five away games in all competition, Aston Villa haven’t won any games, instead drawing three and losing two (D D L L D).
West Ham United’s form in all competitions mimics Villa’s form (D D L W W). Neverthless, their home form is very impressive: they’ve won three and drawn two of the last five, including a decent draw against Manchester City (D W W W D).
In the past:
These fixtures are usually tight, cagey affairs with not a lot of goals to decide the winner. The last time these two teams met was at Villa Park in December. Fortunately for the Villans, the team actually put on a very good display that started Garde’s ‘mini-revival’. There were signs of Villa being a decent team, but it was in the final third in which we were lacking. The game finished 0-0 but in all honesty Villa deserved the three points.
The last five games between the two sides have seen three draws and a win each. The last time Aston Villa beat West Ham United was last season in May, when a solitary Tom Cleverley goal was enough to seal the three points which were invaluable to Villa’s survival chances. Three points today won’t save Villa from relegation, although if Sunderland and Newcastle slip up then Villa could potentially close the gap to only three points.
This has been a crazy season… If the Villans were to win then it could be the start of our version of ‘The Great Escape’.