George Pitts previews Monday evening's Premier League match under the floodlights at Villa Park.
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Aston Villa v West Ham
- 2000 BST kick-off on Sky Sports Premier League
West Ham are going to have to improve their away form if they are to make a serious assault on those sides in and around the top-six and games against teams like Aston Villa are where they should not be slipping up.
Manuel Pellegrini's side, to be fair, have started well with four points from a possible six away from the London Stadium - only Liverpool and Man City have collected more (before MD5).
They spent big on attacking reinforcements in the summer and now have talent in abundance going forward. The Hammers' chequebook got some usage and for that they have been rewarded, going four unbeaten since their opening day 5-0 drubbing to champions Man City.
Injuries have derailed the Hammers in recent seasons but, with exception of Winston Reid and Michail Antonio, they pretty much have a whole squad to choose from and they can travel to Villa Park with optimism.
As much as the Hammers need to be winning games like this, so do Aston Villa. Their home form will be crucial to survival and they got their first win here last time out against Everton under the Friday night lights.
They have since been beaten at Crystal Palace, with THAT decision by Kevin Friend denying them a point in the final stages following Jack Grealish's 'dive' - see it again here.
They will be hoping for more of that performance against Everton rather than the Selhurst Park display, where they allowed goal-shy Palace to attempt an incredible 22 shots (only five were on target).
It really is a tough one to call in terms of predicting the outcome. The international break could easily have halted West Ham's momentum and after such good form you can just see them slipping up here. Then you throw in the Monday Night Football element that should not make a difference, but it does.
At a push, Villa are slightly preferred (probably in a draw no bet though) and currently at a price of over 17/10 to win. But without confidence in either side, the preference is to avoid the result.
Homegrown hero Grealish was in the thick of it in that controversial end in south east London and that just about sums up his game - always in the thick of it.
He has performed well since returning to the top flight, setting up one goal but he is yet to open his account. He is trying, to be fair, with at least two shots in his last three appearances, so it is surprising to see him at 11/10 to register at least a shot on target and that is worth taking.
Another interesting market to look at is the cards, with an attractive price on Hammers attacker Andriy Yarmolenko.
The Ukrainian should play in a trio behind Sebastien Haller and in front of holding midfielders Declan Rice and Mark Noble. He should also still have to perform his defensive duties with Villa's tricky and dangerous attack. Grealish included, there is also Conor Hourihane, John McGinn and Jota to name but a few.
Former Dortmund man Yarmolenko has committed five fouls in his last two games and stats like that suggest that he is fortunate not to have been shown a card yet.
He only played nine times for the Hammers in the Premier League last season before picking up a nasty injury. But in that time, he already reached two bookings. And in 16/17, his last campaign with Dynamo Kiev, he received seven cautions in the Ukrainian league, so he does have a tendency to go in the book.
At 11/2 in places to be shown a card, that looks a great price on a player overdue a booking.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 West Ham (Sky Bet odds: 9/1)
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Aston Villa will be without striker Jonathan Kodjia. The Ivory Coast international suffered a fractured cheekbone in a training-ground clash of heads with team-mate Marvelous Nakamba and faces several weeks out. Egypt winger Trezeguet is suspended after his red card against Crystal Palace last time out.
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini reported no fresh injury concerns following the international break. Winger Michail Antonio has undergone surgery on a hamstring problem suffered during the Carabao Cup win at Newport and so faces a lengthy spell of rehabilitation. Defender Winston Reid is closing in on a return to action following some 18 months recovering from a serious knee problem.
- Aston Villa have lost just two of their last 18 home league games against West Ham (W8 D8 L2) – 1-2 in January 2006 and 0-2 in February 2014.
- West Ham are looking to secure back-to-back league victories against Aston Villa for the first time since January 2006, having beating them 2-0 in their last meeting in February 2016.
- Aston Villa have won just one of their last 16 Premier League games on a Monday (D5 L10), beating Sunderland 6-1 in April 2013.
- West Ham’s return of seven points (W2 D1 L1) from their opening four Premier League games is their best start to a season since 2012-13, when they also won seven points under Sam Allardyce.
- Aston Villa have lost 15 of their last 17 Premier League matches (W1 D1 L15), including three of their four this season (W1 D0 L3).
- West Ham striker Sébastien Haller has scored three goals in three Premier League games this season and has been involved in 21 goals in his last 25 top-flight appearances across spells at Eintracht Frankfurt and the Hammers (15 goals, 6 assists).
- The two most-fouled players in the Premier League this season are Aston Villa midfielders John McGinn (15) and Jack Grealish (13).
- West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini lost his first match against Aston Villa in September 2013 but has won five of his subsequent six in all competitions against the Villans (W5 D1 L0), all as Manchester City manager.
- In all competitions, Aston Villa have won seven of their last nine home games (W7 D0 L2), having won just six of their previous 20 at Villa Park (W6 D10 L4).
- West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini has created 14 chances for his team-mates in the Premier League this season – only Man City’s Kevin De Bruyne (16) has created more.
Odds correct as of 2130 BST on 13/09/19
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