Villa clash is a huge six-pointer for West Ham
The Hammers go into Saturday’s Premier League showdown with Aston Villa desperate for three points
Aston Villa will be looking for a hat-trick of ‘W’ away wins at the weekend.
So far this season, the only away league wins they have managed are a 2-1 victory at Wolves back in September, and a win by the same scoreline over Wigan in January.
Victory over West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday will give them their unimpressive treble, but there is little reason to suggest that they will manage it.
Gerard Houllier has had a tough time since taking over the helm at Villa Park.
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Star signing Stephen Ireland, brought in to replace James Milner, was a huge flop, before being shipped off to Newcastle on loan, while a lack of goals has been a problem all season.
Ashley Young leads the way with eight goals in all competitions, couple that with his crossing ability and the England regular will be the one to watch this Saturday.
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Not far behind will be �18million striker Darren Bent, who since his departure from Sunderland has left them in freefall.
He has five goals to his name for Villa and that has halted their alarming slide down the table to some extent.
Houllier has reverted to experience over youth in the last few weeks, with positive results, and that could even mean a start for the physical presence of Emile Heskey, something that will not be too alarming to the West Ham defence.
More likely to hurt them is the pace of Stewart Downing and Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Last season Zavon Hines scored a dramatic last-minute winner to sink Villa at Upton Park, but not far from our memories is the thought of that 3-0 opening day drubbing for the Hammers in Birmingham.
That day, West Ham had Herita Ilunga, Winston Reid, Julien Faubert, Radoslav Kovac and Luis Boa Morte all in the starting line-up, so perhaps we should not be too surprised, though what excuse the current team had at Bolton on Saturday is not so clear.
Aston Villa sit 14th in the table with 37 points after former Hammer James Collins scored the only goal against Newcastle on Sunday.
Perhaps that victory will mean they take their eye off the ball this Saturday.
Perhaps West Ham will simply want it more this weekend, although we said that against Bolton last week and look what happened.
It is a must-win game and West Ham might just shade it, but then we said that last week.
Possible team: Friedel, Young L, Walker, Collins, Dunne, Downing, Reo-Coker, Young A, Petrov, Bent, Agbonlahor.
West Ham 2 Aston Villa 1