Premier league football returns with a bang as the hammers travel to Villa Park. Both teams have had a stellar start to the domestic league and will no doubt look to continue their good form. But who will take the points?
Just 2 points separate the teams and have Villa sitting comfy in 5th. Villa seem to have recovered well from their demoralising 5-1 defeat to Newcastle at the start of the season, as they’ve gone on to win every game since, apart from a loss to Liverpool and a draw to Wolves. Like West ham, Villa have added European games, where they have had mixed results. A loss to Legia Warszawa and a win over Zrinjski strangely has them at the bottom of their group (all 4 teams are on 3 points). Villa Park has only seen one loss this season, 2-1 to Everton in the EFL Cup.
The last 8 games of last years domestic season saw Villa win all 8 games, proving the Birmingham side had developed a bit of a “fortress” at home. Although that phrase is used all too often, those home wins were the reason Unai Emery’s team managed a late season drive up the table to grab themselves a spot in Europe.
Who too look out for?
Ollie Watkins boasts an impressive 4 goals from 8 games this season. He’s not only proven himself as a prolific goal scorer this season, but a playmaker too, as the Englishman has 4 assists to his name already. He has been wasteful with chances however, as these 8 goals have come from a whopping 27 shots. This is bitter sweat for West Ham fans as it suggests he will have Areola working hard to keep a clean sheet.
Modern full backs:
Lucas Digne and Matty Cash have been tearing up their opposition this season for Aston Villa. Lucas Digne has registered 5 assists, making him the clubs top assister this season, as well as gaining himself a vital goal in their win over Legia Warszawa. Cash on the other hand has 3 goals and 2 assists, equally impressive goal contributions from the Right back. Pin point crosses, skilful dribbles, far post runs and an engine that doesn’t run out is what these two bring to the team. Stopping them will be difficult, but needed, if West Ham are to gain 3 points from this fixture.
Winger? Attacking Midfielder? Centre forward?:
Moussa Diaby has 2 goals and 3 assists so far this season. This isn’t bad, but doesn’t nearly show the value he brings to Unai Emery’s team. His speed and agility keep back lines guessing, while his unselfish passes open up the pitch. He reminds me of a smaller, more collected, Darwin Nunez during his first season for Liverpool as Diary brings a similar unpredictable raw power and enthusiasm to the game. He’s everywhere, sometimes in the middle of the park, sometimes just off Ollie Watkins making runs beyond him and sometimes off the right wing, where he played in his days at Bayer Leverkusen. This dynamism makes him a tricky customer.
I can see West Ham adopting a very low block, pouncing on the counter attack. Emery’s system is designed to dictate possession and with the added controllability that comes with playing at home, I can see Villa dominating most of the play. Where I see West Ham getting success is through the middle as new signing Pau Torres from Villarreal has looked shaky at the best of times. I can see this game going either way, and being a great game for the neutrals. Overall I’m going with a 2-2 draw. Yes I get it’s boring going for a draw but away at Villa Park, I don’t see that result as disappointing. Villa are playing very well, as are West Ham, so I see many goals. Either way, it should be a great game to watch. Come on you Hammers.
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