It’s the Claret and Blue derby (Yep, I’m going with that) as Aston Villa face West Ham on Monday night. I fancy this to be a really good game under the lights at Villa Park and I’ll certainly be tuning into Sky Sports to watch this one. Firstly, Villa manager Dean Smith loves to play attacking football. He plays a 4-3-3 with two fairly offensive midfielders in John McGinn and Jack Grealish, and two attacking wingers with Anwar El Ghazi and probably Jota this weekend. Their full-backs also like to get forward, with Frederic Guilbert frequently bombing forward down the right.
I would also tend to back them at home because of how much their fans at Villa Park seem to have an impact on their games. This showed in their 2-0 win over Everton and, although it’s an overused cliché, I genuinely believe the fans suck the ball into the net at Villa Park. As for West Ham, their front four really excites me. New signing Sebastian Haller has started extremely well and with the likes of Manuel Lanzini, Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko in-and-around him, it’s hard to see them not scoring goals this season. Their Expected Goals (xG) has also been very good so far this season, recording an xG of 7.88 in their opening four games. The Hammers scored three goals away at Watford a few weeks ago, which will undoubtedly give them the confidence to go on the road and find the back of the net again.
As I mentioned, I think this’ll be an entertaining game and I reckon they’ll be goals. Villa’s attacking style leaves them vulnerable at the back at times and, as I said, West Ham will always score goals with their frontline. So, over 2.5 goals and both teams to score looks a good play at 5/6 on Bet 365’s Bet Builder. I’d also be happy to take a punt on Jack Grealish to win Man of the Match at 6/1 with William Hill. He’s arguably Villa’s best player and, although he hasn’t been at his best this season, after the controversy of his “dive” last week and this game being on TV, I think this looks a good price.
Monday’s meeting with West Ham will likely come too soon for Matt Targett, who is pencilled in for a comeback against Arsenal a week on Sunday. The suspended Trezeguet is a definite absentee after his dismissal in the defeat to Crystal Palace, so Anwar El Ghazi is the obvious deputy on the left flank.
Michail Antonio has been ruled out for around four months after surgery on a hamstring injury suffered in West Ham’s Carabao Cup win over Newport County. Winston Reid is another long-term absentee for Manuel Pellegrini’s side. Other than that, the Hammers have a fully fit squad for their trip to Birmingham.