West Ham v Aston Villa: Visitors can show fighting spirit

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith can guide his team to safety
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith

Aston Villa can complete their Houdini act when they take on West Ham on Sunday, says Dave Tindall...

"West Ham are confident and can show that in the first 45 minutes by taking the lead at the interval - just as they've done in their last three matches. However, when the tension ramps further up after the break, do Moyes' men really want to dig deep?"

West Ham v Aston Villa
Sunday, 16:00
Live on BT Sport 1

Hammers home free

West Ham were very much part of the relegation equation when football resumed but the value of having a proven, battled-hardened manager has been obvious to see.

With the pressure on, David Moyes' team have reeled off three wins and two draws in their last six games to jump from a precarious tally of 27 points to a now safe 38.

A 3-2 win over Chelsea proved the catalyst and they've completed the job with back-to-back wins over Norwich (4-0) and Watford (3-1) and a deserved point at Old Trafford last time to quieten the relegation-still-mathematically-possible pedants.

It means, from their point of view, Sunday's finale is no longer a do-or-die fight to stay up. Safety has already been achieved.

The hosts, who have won their final Premier League game for the last three seasons, have a pretty clean bill of health although will check on the fitness of Jared Bown, who picked up a knock at Manchester United.

Villa on verge of great escape

West Ham aren't the only team in claret and blue to find a late-season surge.

Villa were in an even worse position with games running out but after losing three straight games without scoring a goal - to be fair they were tough ones against Wolves, Liverpool and Manchester United - Dean Smith's side have taken seven points from nine.

A 2-0 win over Crystal Palace and a point at Everton kept them in the game and a tense 1-0 victory over Arsenal has pulled them one place above the relegation zone thanks to a marginally better goal difference (-26 v -27) than Watford.

But this will still be a massively tense afternoon. In theory, they could take all three points and still go down if Watford enjoy a bigger winning margin although the Hornets have a tough clash at Arsenal.

And Villa face a double threat. Lose and that could see Bournemouth jump over them with a win at Everton.

On the team news front, Ahmed Elmohamady misses out due to a hamstring injury but Neil Taylor may return.

Villa clear favourites

It's one of those matches where you almost do a double take at first before remembering how games like this are priced up.

With Aston Villa needing something, they're put in as [2.36] favourites, while West Ham are [3.15].

The Draw, which could well be enough for Villa to stay up, is [3.7].

So, are West Ham value? It depends whether you subscribe to the 'on the beach and nothing to play for' angle or take the view that they're an in-form team, who will play with freedom.

Despite recent results, West Ham are vulnerable at home and only rock-bottom Norwich and, bizarrely, Southampton have lost more on their own patch than the Hammers' unwanted tally of nine.

They've also conceded a hefty 32 goals at home, another reason for Villa to be hopeful.

I'm certainly leaning towards something pro-Aston Villa but want more than their fairly measly win odds.

Smith's men can show bottle

One huge problem for Villa this season has been their inability to keep clean sheets; in fact, they haven't managed any on the road, putting them on track to become the 10th side in Premier League history to fail to register a road shutout.

West Ham have a bit of pep in their step so I'm certainly going to give the hosts a goal.

However, let's rewind to last year's Play-off semis when Villa faced a crunch two-legged semi-final with local rivals West Brom.

In the first, they were in trouble when going 1-0 down at home but two second-half goals gave them a 2-1 victory which ultimately saw them through to Wembley where they beat Derby 2-1.

In other words, Villa, as they're showing again, possess some bottle when the heat is on.

So how about something like this...

West Ham are confident and can show that in the first 45 minutes by taking the lead at the interval - just as they've done in their last three matches.

However, when the tension ramps up further after the break, do Moyes' men really want to dig deep?

Let's not forget that West Ham have lost their last two second halfs. They were 3-0 up on Watford before winning 3-1 while they led 1-0 at the interval against Man Utd before it finished 1-1.

It means, I'll look to try and go out with a bit of a bang in this final Premier League preview of the campaign by heading to the half-time/full-time markets and back West Ham/Draw at [15.5] and West Ham/Aston Villa at [27].

Goals expected

The market points towards goals and there's a clear lean towards Over 2.5 which is just [1.72]. Unders is [2.26].

It's a similar story with Both teams to Score.

'Yes' is only [1.61] while 'No' is [2.52].

Antonio the man in form

Michail Antonio is oozing confidence in front of goal - so much so that Mark Noble even let him take a penalty at Old Trafford.

The striker rolled it in with aplomb to make it eight goals in six matches since the Premier League returned.

He's available at [2.9] to score again but also take a look at the [7.2] for first goal - something he's managed in four of his last five games.

Opta Stat

Aston Villa have won two of their last three Premier League games (D1), as many as they had in their previous 15 in the competition (W2 D3 L10).

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Dave Tindall's P/L, 2019/20

Staked: 112.00pts
Returned: 113.22pts
P/L: +1.22pts

Dave Tindall,

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