West Ham United hope to get their top-four chase back on track when they host Aston Villa at the London Stadium.

West Ham United are in the danger of losing out in the race for a top-four finish if they continue to perform below the required levels. The Hammers have dropped significant points in their last few games, which has seen them lose momentum in the battle for the Champions League spots.

Last weekend’s loss to Liverpool allowed Arsenal to climb over them in the rankings, with the Gunners also having a few games in hand over the Hammers. The east London side are currently in sixth place, level on points with Tottenham, who are breathing down their necks.

A win over Villa will keep them in contention for that coveted Champions League spot, while more dropped points could make life difficult for David Moyes and his men. West Ham face a real test on Sunday against the Midlands side, with more difficult fixtures awaiting the Londoners in the coming weeks.

Aston Villa will come to London high on confidence and with momentum on their side. Following an emphatic victory over Southampton, Steven Gerrard’s men thrashed Leeds United by three goals in their midweek game. Philippe Coutinho, Matty Cash and Calum Chambers got themselves on the scoresheet.

Villa have now recorded three victories on the bounce, dispatching Brighton, Southampton and Leeds with ease. Gerrard will be eager to see how his side performs against a team vying for a top-six finish.

Team News & Tactics

West Ham United

David Moyes had mixed news regarding injuries to his players. Jarrod Bowen, who was taken off against Liverpool with a knock and missed the midweek game away to Sevilla, remains absent. Moyes insisted the team could cope without the attacker, although he admitted his goals were already missed.

Moyes confirmed that there are no more problems with Declan Rice, who missed out against Liverpool last weekend but started at Sevilla in midweek. The midfielder should start in the middle of the park against Villa alongside Tomas Soucek.

Vladimir Coufal, Andriy Yarmolenko and Angelo Ogbonna are also out of the clash, with the latter missing for the long term. In terms of shape, Moyes may revert to his usual 4-2-3-1, compared to the 4-4-2 he deployed against Liverpool.

Bowen’s absence could allow Nikola Vlasic to keep his place on the right side of the attack, despite starting the game against Sevilla during the week. Lanzini should slot in the No. 10 role, with Pablo Fornals back on the left side of the attack. Michail Antonio is the undisputed choice to lead the line for the Hammers.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Johnson, Dawson, Zouma, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Vlasic, Lanzini, Fornals; Antonio

Aston Villa

Steven Gerrard will be relieved that there were no casualties from the Leeds game and Marvelous Nakamba remains the only confirmed absentee for Aston Villa. Gerrard need not make any changes to the starting lineup considering how well the team is performing, despite plenty of players in the background pushing to be included from the start.

Calum Chambers could keep his place ahead of Ezri Konsa, who hasn’t featured since the home win over Leeds, where he was sent off. Lucas Digne, Tyrone Mings and Matty Cash should make up the rest of the defence. Emiliano Buendia, Morgan Sanson, Ashley Young and Leon Bailey are all in with a shout, although they may have to be content with a place on the bench once again.

Douglas Luiz, John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey have firmly established themselves as the preferred trio in midfield. Philippe Coutinho, Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings are expected to lead from the front. The Brazilian, in particular, will be hoping to keep up his prolific form of late.

Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Martinez; Cash, Chambers, Mings, Digne; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Coutinho; Ings, Watkins

Key Stats

  • West Ham have won their last three games against Aston Villa in all competitions.
  • West Ham have scored at least two goals in each of their last three games against Aston Villa across all competitions.
  • Aston Villa have won their last three Premier League games.
  • Aston Villa have kept a clean sheet in their last three Premier League games.
  • Aston Villa have scored at least two goals in their last three matches in the Premier League.

Player to Watch

Philippe Coutinho

Embed from Getty Images

The Brazilian already has seven direct goal contributions to his name in 8 Premier League outings since he joined from Barcelona on loan in January. He has scored four goals and created three more, which are staggering numbers for someone who was considered terribly out of form before he arrived at Villa Park.

Currently occupying ninth place in the table, Aston Villa now have a slim chance of getting into the European qualifying spots. Coutinho will be key to that push, especially in some of the big games that lie ahead, starting with Sunday’s encounter against West Ham United.

Prediction

West Ham United 2-2 Aston Villa

West Ham United are missing Jarrod Bowen, who has proven to be a major goal threat for the team. Despite his absence, West Ham have plenty of attacking talent to match the prolific form of the Aston Villa forwards. There is a high probability for this encounter to produce plenty of goals, and The Hard Tackle predicts a score draw.

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