West Ham vs Aston Villa – how the teams compare
By Scott Trimble
West Ham vs Aston Villa
This Saturday is the one day this year when Villa fans will cheer against the claret and blue, as we head to London (kitted out in Lime) to take on West Ham. Shirt colours though are not the only thing the Lions and Hammers have in common. Both sides are averaging about a point per game for the first quarter of the season, and have been far more successful on their travels than their home turf.
After nine games, the two teams have played five of the same opponents (Tottenham, Man City, Hull, Newcastle, and Everton), and both teams have earned four points from those five fixtures. Consequently, we learn fairly little from looking at those matches. Both teams lost to Everton, but with the other opponents, they have in effect traded results. Villa drew Hull and lost to Newcastle, while West Ham drew Newcastle and lost to Hull. Villa beat Man City and lost to Spurs, whereas West Ham beat Spurs and lost to Man City.
The most noticeable difference to be seen from these five (ten) fixtures is in goal difference, where West Ham is even and Villa are -3. Advantage West Ham.
West Ham’s Defensive Strength
West Ham are primarily a solid defensive side, level with Liverpool as the fourth stingiest defence in the Premier League. Only Southampton, Spurs and Chelsea have surrendered fewer goals than West Ham’s 8, and they’ve kept a clean sheet in five of their nine matches.
Their attack has been much less reliable, picking up five of their eight goals in their two victories – 2-0 vs Cardiff and 3-0 at Spurs. Both the success of their defence and the weakness of their attacking options may be attributable to their 4-5-1 formation, and the fact that Modibo Maïga was in the lone striker role for the first six games without finding the net or assisting.
West Ham’s Striker Woes
Andy Carroll has missed the whole season so far, and though Ricardo Vaz Tê was beginning to turn around their scoring woes, he had to be subbed off due to a dislocated shoulder against Swansea. Against Villa, Sam Allardyce is likely to give the nod to recent re-signing Carlton Cole.
Defensively, Villa are tied for sixth worst team in the league, along with Fulham and Man U, and have kept only two clean sheets. As it’s knowingly perceived, Villa are primarily a counter-attacking team, with Paul Lambert having limited success in getting his team to break through opposing defenses when we have extended periods of possession…if they have extended periods of possession.
When part of your attacking strategy involves absorbing pressure from your opponent’s attack, it is to be expected with a youthful backline that occasionally the opposition will find a way through. Unfortunately, that has happened 12 times already.
Villa have only scored one more than West Ham (9 to their 8), so the inferior goal difference to the Hammers is mainly down to their better performing defence.
Villa’s Away Delight
In comparing home and away fixtures, both teams have picked up only three points at home, while grabbing 7 (Villa) and 6 (West Ham) in away matches. Since Saturday’s match is being played at Upton Park, the advantage surely lies with Villa. Also, Villa’s only loss away was at Chelsea, where we arguably might have won if it were not for some poor decisions from the referee. As highlighted earlier in the week, Villa are currently the sixth best away team in the Premier League on current form.
The fact that the Hammers have almost conceded two goals a game (7) at The Boleyn Ground this season, is encouragement to suggest Villa will again pick up a decent result on their travels.
Positive on the front foot at home and alas more open at the back, it’ll be interesting to see if Allardyce decides to put his fullbacks on a leash to stifle Villa’s counter attack threat. If so, it could be a slow game of cat-and-mouse, and might end up 0-0, a score West Ham have achieved three times already this season when playing more conservatively when on their travels.
Prediction: Villa 2-1.
As well a positive result, lets also hope that the traveling away support don’t have to suffer a distinct lack of refreshments like the opening day of the last season (which West Ham apologised for). At least no heat wave is forecast in East London this time! UTV
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