The threat of relegation haunts Aston Villa and they must start winning soon, says Lee Dixon, who predicts a welcome turnaround in the home team's fortunes on Sunday...
Last weekend's spirited performance at Everton will give this young Villa squad some much needed confidence and there are few better opportunities to build on that than a home game against West Ham.
Two wins away from Upton Park in the league suggest the Hammers are a soft touch, though you could say that about Villa who cannot beat that total from 12 home games.
Nevertheless, I fancy them to build on that morale-boosting effort at Goodison Park with a third Premier League victory in front of the Villa Park faithful. The near miss at Everton was painful yet encouraging and there are definite signs of life among Paul Lambert's relegation-threatened side. I think it could be the spring board they need to put together a good run and beat the drop.
With games against Arsenal and Manchester City to follow, Villa really need to break that eight-game winless streak in the league. The Opta stats offer hope - West Ham have taken just one point from the last 21 available on the road and scored just five goals in their last nine games away from home in the Premier League.
Villa's home scoring record - nine goals in the league - is little better than West Ham's on the road, but while the stats could persuade you to back the 0-0 it's not a bet for me. In fact, I think it's time we went over 2.5 goals as I see the home side scoring at least two goals with Christian Benteke and co. looking sprightly in attack.
West Ham have been woeful in front of goal and I see that continuing even with Andy Carroll back on goalscoring form last time out. Sam Allardyce's men look relatively safe in 11th place but Villa need to get a wriggle on if they're to beat the drop. That urgency must transmit to the team and Sunday afternoon could see the start of an end of season fightback.
Benteke has been Villa's main man in recent matches but I'm a big fan of Andreas Weimann who will be a bigger price than his strike partner in the To Score market. Let's back him to hit his fifth of the season as Villa pull off their third home win of the season.
The Tactical View: Michael Cox
I broadly agree with Lee's assessment of the game - I have faith in Paul Lambert's ability to turn it around and ensure that Villa beat the drop. However, his side have clearly struggled against powerful aerial threats recently, particularly in the Carling Cup defeat to Bradford, while Marouane Fellaini scored another header against them last weekend. The last man they want to be facing is Andy Carroll, who scored a fine header against Swansea last time out, so I'll back him to score anytime, at 3.3.
The Betfair Trader's View: Alan Thompson
Aston Villa are in a desperate position and it's their home form that lets them down. Away from home they have suffered only one defeat in their last six, albeit an 8-0 thumping at Stamford Bridge but they scored 11 in the other five. At home they have lost four of their last six scoring twice and conceding 10. Happily they face a West Ham side whose away form is as bad as Villa’s home record. The Hammers haven’t won in their last six on the road losing five and scoring only twice in those six games. I had Villa about 2.3 for this game and therefore I’m going to take a chance on them sorting out their home form by backing them at 2.62. Villa have opened the scoring in 11 games this season and five of those opening goals have been scored by Benteke, at 6.0 I think he is worth a punt to score the opener again.