Sunday's big match preview
Aston Villa v West Ham United Sunday, January 17, 1.30pm Villa Park THERE WAS a time, not so long ago, when West Ham were competing against Aston Villa on a level playing field. The two clubs have been going in different directions in the last campaign or
Aston Villa v West Ham United
Sunday, January 17, 1.30pm
THERE WAS a time, not so long ago, when West Ham were competing against Aston Villa on a level playing field.
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The two clubs have been going in different directions in the last campaign or two though and it is Villa who are looking at a European berth next season as well as a place in this year's Carling Cup Final.
Martin O'Neill's shrewd managerial skills have been the catalyst for Villa's elevation to the upper strata of the Premier League and he continues to build on his team from year to year.
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He may have lost Gareth Barry to Manchester City at long last, but he more than adequately replaced him with James Milner, while the money he received for the midfielder was quickly spent on Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing, plus central defenders Richard Dunne and Hammer James Collins.
O'Neill believes in buying British and as well as those purchases, Stephen Warnock arrived from Blackburn to add quality to the defence and compliment their pacy, attractive front line.
Gabriel Agbonlahor has been the pick of the strikers this term, grabbing nine in all competitions, while John Carew has managed six, Milner the same and even Emile Heskey has notched three!
Villa have won six of their 10 home Premier League games, with only Wigan on the opening day and a last-minute Fernando Torres goal for Liverpool grabbing all three points.
They have beaten Fulham, Portsmouth, Bolton, Hull City, Blackburn and most impressively Chelsea at Villa Park scoring 17 goals against just seven in the process.
In fact, Villa, along with their city rivals Birmingham, are the teams in form at the moment.
O'Neill's men have won seven of their last eight games in all competitions before tomorrow's Carling Cup semi-final with Blackburn.
Perhaps that semi-final, and the second leg next Wednesday, will prove a distraction for Villa, and if that sounds like clutching at straws, then you would be right.
West Ham last won at Villa back in 2006 when they came from behind with goals from Bobby Zamora and a Marlon Harewood penalty to win 2-1, but without Carlton Cole and Guillermo Franco on Sunday, it is difficult to see how the Hammers are going to find the firepower to hurt the home team.
West Ham will go with a fighting chance, but perhaps their best hope will be a battling goalless draw.
Either that, or the return of the snow and a postponement and West Ham fans will be laughing.
Don't hold your breath.
Possible team: Friedel, Warnock, Cuellar, Dunne, Luke Young, Downing, Milner, Pet-rov, Ashley Young, Agbonlahor, Carew.
Aston Villa 2 West Ham 0