With West Ham only recently gaining promotion to the top flight and Aston Villa embroiled in a relegation battle last term, nobody knows what quite to expect from these two sides this time around. Coincidently, it was only a couple of years ago that both clubs started the campaign against each other, although the omens certainly aren’t good for West Ham in that case as that was the season which the Hammers suffered their relegation to the Championship.
Even though West Ham are one of the newly-promoted clubs to enter the top flight, most people are not tipping Sam Allardyce’s men to struggle. Instead, the general consensus is that the Hammers will manage a comfortable finish and once again start to consolidate as an established Premiership outfit. It would be fair to say that Allardyce has been extremely busy in the transfer market in the summer and some would suggest that the Hammers are barely noticeable from last season. In comparison to many of his rivals, Allardyce has been able to recruit experienced players at this level and this means that many are convinced about West Ham’s ability to compete in the Premiership this time around.
Aston Villa on the other hand have taken a much more reserved approach, with Paul Lambert just bringing in a handful of players since his appointment a couple of months ago. Nevertheless, Lambert at least has his supporters on side, which is more than can be said about his predecessor Alex McLeish. McLeish never managed to win over the Villa Park faithful due to his Birmingham connections and with that, success was always going to be difficult. However, even though Lambert arrives with a superb reputation following his work at Norwich, it remains to be seen if he can make the step up with the club seemingly reluctant to invest in the transfer market.
On the subject of team news, Sam Allardyce has several concerns with two of his new players lacking the fitness to be selected. Mobido Maiga and Alou Diarra are both not deemed fit enough for the first game, while a knee injury means that Jack Collison won’t be featuring. Aston Villa on the other hand have received some good news in relation to Brett Holman, with the Australian passing a late fitness test following a recent knee problem. However, Paul Lambert won’t be able to rely upon Richard Dunne, Gabriel Agbonlahor or Marc Albrighton as injury hampers the trio.
As for a prediction, our tip for this game is going to be a draw. West Ham look an impressive outfit on paper, yet Paul Lambert will make this Aston Villa squad very difficult to beat. Bearing this in mind, we think this clash will end in a 1-1 score line.