Aston Villa vs West Ham – Pre-game Assessment

Sunday, Oct.22, 16:30 pm – Villa Park, Referee: David Coote

This Sunday, we find ourselves meeting up with a fellow Claret and Blues team, this one being from London, at a time that both teams are close to be on a par.  West Ham, proudly working class, has never aspired to be one of the elite London group (only Arsenal, Spurs, and Chelsea) but, thanks to solid managership, most recently by David Moyes, the team has maintained a solid hold in the Premier League with their latest spell being since 2012. 

While they have never been close to winning the Premiership, they have done well in Europe, winning the Europa Conference League last season.  Without the resources to compete at the very top level, they find it difficult to retain their best talent, with Declan Rice being a case in point. 

West Ham acquired Declan from Chelsea in 2013 for no fee.  This year they received €116 million from Arsenal for the defensive midfielder.  They then replaced him with James Ward-Prowse for €34.80 million.  That was not a like-for-like replacement but, with Tomáš Souček and Edson Álvarez in the line-up, they felt they had Declan’s defensive role covered.  With the change from the Rice sale, they picked up Mohammed Kudus, an attacking midfielder for €40.00 million and they still have money in the bank.

Of course, Arsenal believes that with Rice in their line-up, they can compete with Man City for the title.  They could be correct and both teams would be in a win-win situation.  We will see.  So far this season, West Ham seemed to have caught their rivals unprepared.  Without Rice, they were expected to struggle to perform at the level of last season when they finished 14th.  Instead, they have had a good start and are in 7th place, just two points behind our Villans.

That their only two losses were against Man City and Liverpool suggests that this Hammer team is a more serious threat than versions of the past with Ward-Prowse giving them his direct kick threat.  In fact, Ward-Prowse already has 3 assists and one goal this season.

Antonio never quits and will be a constant pest and Jarrod Bowens, also capped by England this weekend, is their most likely goal-scorer.  As far as their defense is concerned, they are more porous than Moyes would want, but they rarely give up easy goals.

Meanwhile, our Villans’ great home record coincides with Ollie Watkins riding high with his England cap as a just reward for his excellent play this season.  The combination should allow us to control the game and to limit opportunities for our visitors.

Still, it will not be easy.  A rested Diaby will likely get more views at goal and Luiz should be able to set the tempo in midfield.  Kamara will make it hard for any Hammer to get time on the ball and Martinez, fresh off another international shutout for Argentina, will be prepared for anything.

Result Prediction:

For the reasons given, I think our Villans will prevail.  Prediction:  Aston Villa 3, West Ham 1.

Predicted Villa Line-Up:

Aston Villa: Martínez, Cash, Konsa, Torres, Digne, Luiz, McGinn, Kamara, Bailey, Diaby, Watkins

Subs: Olsen, Traore, Duran, Dendoncker, Chambers, Zaniolo

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