After pushing themselves up into ninth position when winning last time, Aston Villa take on West Ham at Villa Park tonight (8.15pm Wednesday; TV: Live on BT Sport).
Can the hosts take another step in the right direction? Or it will it be West Ham who close in on the top four by coming out on top? Read our AVFC vs WHU preview with betting tips and odds to find out.
Villa’s form of late has been patchy. Their rhythm post-Christmas was stunted by the forced isolation of much of their squad, and they’ve come back stuttering rather than flying along. Losing to Man City wasn’t the end of the world, while they delivered a convincing display to get the better of Newcastle, though the defeat at Burnley that followed was both unexpected and untimely for Dean Smith’s men. Fortunately, they bounced back last time by overcoming Southampton by a goal to nil on the road.
Unlike Villa, West Ham had seemingly become a model of consistency. They had won six on the spin in all competitions, beating Palace, West Brom, Everton and Burnley in the league and keeping two clean sheets in the process. Their progress was very much halted last time out, as they surrendered to the reigning champions at the London Stadium, losing by three goals to one. It is easy to overlook the odd bad performance, especially against a side with world class attacking players, but the Hammers must regain their previous form if they’re to avoid dropping too far behind the top four, which is there for the taking for several teams this time around.
Up and down at home
Much like their recent efforts, Villa’s form at home this season has been a mixed bag. In some games they’ve really been on and have looked strong. In other games they’ve struggled to get going or have been incredibly wasteful – the 0-0 draw against Burnley springs to mind. When defeat against Brighton marked three consecutive home defeats back in November, it felt as though Villa were going a bit stale, though they’ve turned things around since then, at least at home.
Their last two efforts on home soil have been quite impressive. The 3-0 win against Palace was comprehensive, as was their 2-0 victory over Newcastle last time out. In each of those matches, as well as others, Dean Smith’s men have created lots, posting xG (for) figures of 3.5 and 1.8, which tells that the five goals they’ve scored in their last two at home have been very much warranted.
West Ham have made light work of winning away from home of late. Last time out, the Hammers notched three times en route to defeating Crystal Palace, while they toppled Everton at Goodison Park prior to that, keeping a clean sheet in the process. David Moyes’ men are now unbeaten in three on the road in the league, scoring four and conceding two. Moreover, they’ve won four of their last six travelling league fixtures. Such efforts should mean that they go into today’s clash feeling confident.
The reverse fixture
When the pair went head-to-head earlier in the campaign, West Ham won by two goals to one. It was a game where both showcased what they had to offer in the final third, but also where the defensive limitations of both were exposed. Given what has gone on since, it would be little surprise to see both teams flourish in the final third, though come up slightly short defensively when they meet on Wednesday evening.
Goals on the horizon?
What their efforts this season have shown is that both Aston Villa and West Ham are well equipped offensively. Neither have a lack of creative talent, while it appears that neither have any trouble getting the ball in the net. Both rank inside the top half in terms of goals scored and expected goals for. Moreover, Villa are currently the fifth-best Premier League team when it comes to expected goals for and the fourth-best in terms of goals scored. Similarly, West Ham are the fifth-best team in terms of expected goals for on the road.
If we combine the above with the fact that both tend be involved in high-scoring games in their respective home and away matches – 62% of Villa’s home games have contained three or more goals, as have 70% of West Ham’s away matches – then ‘over 2.5 goals & both teams to score’ stands out as a viable betting option. Those looking to get involved could certainly do worse than plumping for no shortage of goals when the teams walk out at Villa Park tonight.
If a high-scoring game doesn’t float you boat, then perhaps an attractively priced goal-scorer boat catches the eye. At the current prices, Villa’s Anwar El Ghazi makes lots of appeal in the ‘anytime’ market. The forward has been in fine form this term, especially in terms of goals scored, having slotted home five times in 12 Premier League appearances.
The starts haven’t come thick and fast for the Dutchman in recent weeks, but what with the fixture build up and the need to freshen things up that all teams are currently feeling, it would be no surprise to see him get the nod today. Should that be the case, the man who averages no less than 4.29 shots per 90 minutes, not to mention a high 0.65 expected goals per 90, is well worth siding with to find the net. So these are our Aston Villa vs West Ham betting tips for this preview:
- Over 2.5 Goals & both teams to score @ evens with William Hill.
- Anwar El Ghazi to score at any time @ 13/5 with Paddy Power or Betfair.
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