It`s off to Villa Park this Saturday for a Premier League fixture that pitches the two claret and blue teams against each other. It`s probably fair to say that, of the two it`s West Ham who are enjoying a slightly more comfortable season. For Villa it has been a season of woe, exiting both domestic cups in the same week whilst also struggling in the league. For us, no cup success but for a first season back in top flight we`re doing better than the two teams that came up with us. Can we take all three points at Villa Park? Why not!
Aston Villa Team News:
Paul Lambert`s squad is boosted by the news that Karim El Ahmadi and Fabien Delph are both available again after recovering from knee injuries. There could also be a start for their transfer window signing from French football, Yacouba Sylla.
But there are doubts about the availability of Ashley Westwood who has been suffering from a virus.
Player to watch: Christian Benteke
Burst onto the Premier League scene this season and an absolute bargain picked up by Villa. He`s definitely one we need to keep an eye on.
West Ham Team News:
Big Sam takes his squad to the second city still without the services of James Collins and George McCartney. Also absent will be Modibo Maiga with the player away on African Cup of Nations duty.
Apart from that we have no further injury concerns.
Player to watch: Andy Carroll
The big Geordie is back from injury and raring to go. Hopefully the goal he scored last week (the winner against Swansea) will see his season, goal-wise, kick start.
Match Facts & Stats
Meetings at Villa Park don`t, generally, go West Ham`s way. The last 16 played have seen Villa win 7 and with 7 others drawn, leaving West Ham with just two wins in that period, the last being back in January 2006.
The man in the middle for this encounter is Mark Clattenburg.
Although our away form has been lamentable, Aston Villa`s form in general hasn`t been that good. This could be one of those classics whereby if a team holds it nerve it will emerge with a win. If West Ham can keep our hosts quiet for the first twenty minutes I fancy is to go on and win it, if we can`t, well let`s just say it could be a long afternoon!
Due to our early FA Cup exit, at the hands of Manchester United, we don`t play a competitive fixture again until the 25th February when we entertain our good friends Tottenham Hotspur.