Sunday, September 20, 2020

Prediction: West Ham vs Aston Villa

Verdict: Michail Antonio to score

Best odds: 15/8

Bookmaker: Betfair

West Ham United will play host to Aston Villa at the London Stadium on the final matchday on Sunday in a contest the result of which is likely to have a big impact on the relegation battle still raging in the Premier League.

West Ham

Sitting in 15th place with 38 points, survival has been secured in what has been a difficult season for the Hammers as they finally find themselves out of the reach of those still in danger. Behind them, Brighton and Hove Albion have the same tally, while Aston Villa and Watford with 34 appear set to battle it out to avoid finishing 18th. Bournemouth’s chances, with their own tally of 31, are very remote, while Norwich City at the bottom have been relegated for some time now. 

Having suffered four defeats at home in a row and found themselves in serious trouble, the club sacked Manuel Pellegrini from the dugout on December 28th last year and reappointed David Moyes in his place the following day. 

It took some time for their form to pick up and only after the pandemic-caused break has their been notable progress in terms of results, but it has proven enough to stay up. Their last six games saw them record three wins, two draws and a lone defeat. They traveled to Old Trafford on Wednesday and took a point from Manchester United.

Team News

Forward Michail Antonio has scored eight goals since the restart and is therefore certain to start. However, Jarrod Bowen picked up a minor injury in Manchester and is now a doubt, and the same goes for defender Aaron Cresswell. 

Should Bowen miss out, Andriy Yarmolenko, Manuel Lanzini and Felipe Anderson should be the pool from which Moyes will choose a player to replace him. 

Aston Villa

Unlike West Ham, Villa are far from being safe at the moment. They are in 17th place which, if they manage to keep it by Sunday evening, would be enough to survive, but they’re not there yet. On 34 points, they’re equal to Watford in 18th, and that position in the table is a completely different prospect. Therefore, their coaching staff and the club hierarchy are likely to keep one eye on the happenings at the Emirates, where the Hornets will be playing against Arsenal.

Villa’s recent form isn’t exactly an encouraging piece of information for their supporters in this crucial moment. From their last six league outings, they managed only two wins, beside a draw and three defeats. On the other hand, they might take heart from their 1-0 triumph over Arsenal on Tuesday, while hoping the Gunners would do better than that against Watford.

Team News

Manager Dean Smith will be without the services of winger Ahmed Elmohamady, striker Wesley, defender Bjorn Engels and goalkeeper Tom Heaton. It means veteran Pepe Reina will stand between the posts once again. 

Conclusion

This should be a very interesting contest, if perhaps not so much pleasant to watch for people who prefer technically precise football to physical battles. The two managers will certainly try to outwit one another, but it remains to be seen whether the motivation of Aston Villa can help Smith’s men overcome the pressure-free hosts. 

But looking at both teams recently, Antonio is the player that stands out and if anyone is likely to get on the scoresheet, it’s him.

Verdict: Michail Antonio to score

Best odds: 15/8

Bookmaker: Betfair

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on four different football blogs.

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