West Ham will hope to continue their winning streak when they travel to Villa Park on Sunday to take on Dean Smith’s side.
The Hammers have won their last four games including a massive penalty shoot-out win against Carabao Cup holders Manchester City.
Aston Villa are currently going through a rough run of form having lost their last three games and desperately need points on the table.
This should be a straight-forward encounter for the Hammers but football always has that surprise element so we caught up with BirminghamWorld reporter, Ben Ramsdale, to find out what Villa could come up with.
Key player(s) West Ham need to be wary of?
Leon Bailey. What a player he is and I have no doubt had he been fit for longer periods this season, Villa would have a healthier points total.
He lifts the fanbase when he gets on the ball and he oozes quality. If he starts on Sunday he could be a difference maker.
Special mention for Jacob Ramsey, too. The youngster came on for a cameo at the Emirates and was the best player on the pitch. He gives Villa more energy in the middle and another goal threat as shown by his finish. Definitely one to watch if he starts.
Strengths/weaknesses of Aston Villa
In recent weeks, they’ve started slow in games and it has cost them dearly. Dean Smith has also been deploying a 3/5 at the back formation and it just doesn’t seem to have suited them. T
hey changed to a flat back four against Arsenal and were actually the better team when they did that. Judging by just how poor they were last Friday, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the 3/5 defender experiment scrapped altogether.
Now they are seeing multiple players return to fitness, they have far more options to change things and that can only be a strength. The depth in the squad is the best it has been in years, especially in the forward areas. They have an abundance of options at their disposal to hurt the Hammers - it’s just a case of putting that into practice.
Any team news/injuries?
Leon Bailey made his long awaited return from injury when he played the second 45 at the Emirates last week so will be hoping to go one better and start from the off.
Bertrand Traore also returned to the bench so could come back into Dean Smith’s thinking.
No fresh injury concerns otherwise which is great news for Villa.
Predicted line-up (4-3-3)
Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Bailey, Watkins, Ings
Aston Villa 2-1 West Ham United