Merry Christmas folks, and welcome to the festive edition of Don't look back in anger. How is this issue any more festive than any others I hear you ask? Well I have no idea, but tis the season to be jolly, so I'm hoping that you guys and girls can supply your own festivity to proceedings.
So by the time y'all read this, I'll be away on my holidays, and this was written BEFORE Villa's game with Newcastle. So if it seems too positive, or overly negative, I wrote this at a time when Aston Villa hadn't won in like three months. Who knows, maybe they still haven't, but I sure hope not. It's also worth noting that I have no idea what happened between West Ham and Swansea, so anything I write about this week's opposition is accurate up until before that game.
The last time we met
Until I checked Wikipedia to see the last time we played West Ham, I'd completely forgotten that not only did Aston Villa win, I was there to see it. Talk about leaving an impression huh.
As you can see, I was sat in the front row of the North Stand, perfectly placed to watch Tom Cleverley score the only goal as Villa emerged as 1-0 winners. It wasn't a terribly exciting game, but those three points picked up were the ones that kept Aston Villa in the Premier League for another season. Delaying the inevitable? Only time will tell.
Though Aston Villa were probably the better team on the day, West Ham always looked dangerous in the air. Enner Valencia had a goal disallowed for offside, and Shay Given produced a top save to deny former Villan James Collins a goal from a corner. Villa though probably should have won 2-0, a stunning Jack Grealish through ball put a returning Gabby clean through, who promptly missed. He hasn't scored since.
Aston Villa beat West Ham in May. In the Premier League, Aston Villa have won just once since then, this season's away clash against Bournemouth. Villa Park hasn't witnessed a league win since this game. Food for thought.
West Ham this season
To say that West Ham started the season well would be an understatement. New signings such as Dimitri Payet, Angelo Ogbonna and Manuel Lanzini helped the Londoners to six wins in their first ten games. Perhaps more impressively, this season the Hammers have gone 4-1-1 against last season's top six, a really impressive record, it has to be said.
Bizarrely, while they have done well against the big teams, they failed to pick up wins against Sunderland, Norwich or Bournemouth. This might play into Aston Villa's hands, as West Ham seem to have trouble against the sides that they should be beating comfortably. At this point, Villa fall into that category. On the flip side, if Villa fail to pick up points here, the blow is doubled by the fact that relegation rivals managed to come away with something against West Ham.
News that could be classed as good for Villa is that Hammers duo Diafra Sakho and Dimitri Payet will miss out through injury. The latter in particular has been instrumental in the West Ham side and it shows, they have failed to win in their last six games since his injury. Of course, any team struggling for form usually seems to find it again at Villa Park, so that might not be such good news. But three points for Villa on Boxing Day is all I want for Christmas. So if that could happen, that would be great. Merry Christmas y'all!