West Ham should extend their unbeaten run to five games by inflicting a seventh straight defeat on a dejected Aston Villa side on Saturday.
Sam Allardyce has insisted the Hammers will do Villa no favours at Upton Park as Paul Lambert looks to end their worst run in the top flight since 1964.
The two clubs are currently at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of form and league positions and in theory it should be a doddle for the home side to pick up the three points.
Seven games on from the awful showing against Southampton – now perhaps not as awful as first thought considering they’re 2nd and flying high – the Irons have only lost once, to Manchester United, and have consistently put in committed, often thrilling performances.
While their victory over the reigning Premier League champions a couple of weeks back was mightily impressive, the grit and resilience they showed to come back from two goals down to earn a draw at the Britannia last time out was just as pleasing.
- West Ham show their European credentials
- Collins must remain a starter for West Ham
- Valencia is most underrated Premier League striker
This Hammers side are soaring with confidence and belief at present, largely due to the new-found strength and quality within the squad, but even without in-form striker Diafra Sakho they demonstrated fight and togetherness against Stoke.
They have scored 19 goals in their opening ten games – their best start to a top-flight campaign, in terms of goalscoring, for 28 years and they will hope to continue in that vein.
Sakho is set for a return on Saturday and will surely thrive at the prospect of facing a Villa defence that is leaking goals – they have conceded 14 in their last six matches. Andy Carroll may also be given the chance to get in on the act as he is expected to be included in the squad for the first time this season after recovering from an ankle injury.
Guy Demel is still out but with Carl Jenkinson fit and in good form he will not be a huge loss.
Christian Benteke is suspended for the Villains following his red card against Tottenham last week and without him they have limited options up top. Gabriel Agbonlahor is likely to lead the line and his pace could pose a threat to the Hammers.
Anything less than three points will be seen as a missed opportunity for West Ham, if they want to genuinely be seen as contenders for one of the European places they need to be winning these type of matches.
They have shown already this season a ruthlessness, dispatching of weaker sides comfortably with their composed play and clinical finishing. They will need more of the same against a disheartened Villa and ensure they don't give them any early encouragement.
Predicted West Ham starting XI vs. Aston Villa: Adrian, Jenkinson, Reid, Collins, Cresswell; Noble, Song, Kouyate, Downing; Valencia, Sakho
Predicted scoreline: West Ham 2-0 Aston Villa
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