Assistant manager Neil McDonald is hoping West Ham United can get off to a winning start when they play host to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season.

West Ham will kick-off their 2012/13 Premier League season with a game against the Villains on 18 August, in what will be their new manager Paul Lambert's first competitive game in charge. Macca believes that fact could play into the hands of the Hammers during that game and their second fixture away at Swansea City, who have just appointed Michael Laudrup as their new manager.

"I think it's fantastic - ever since we beat Blackpool everyone has been waiting for the fixtures to come through and when they come through it becomes a reality," he said. "It's brilliant to have a home game first as when you get promoted you're always looking for a home fixture first.

"Villa have got a new manager so hopefully they may still be trying to work out what he wants and that will be the same perhaps for Swansea in our second game. The managers may still be trying to bed in and get their ideas across to the players and which way they want to play and what system they want to play.

"We've got to try and take advantage of that if we possibly can. It's still a difficult start but we're happy we've avoided one of the top four."

The opening nine games look like they could provide West Ham with an opportunity to get some points on the board following their Play-Off final victory against Blackpool just under a month ago. The fixtures do appear to look a little tougher going into November and December, however, so Macca is all too aware that a strong start is needed.

"It will be a tough start without a shadow of a doubt but it's a good start. Looking to November and December when we play the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool it will be very tough so I think we need a good start and hopefully the first six games will give us a chance to get some points on the board."

With Queens Park Rangers' arrival in the Premier League last season, the Hammers will now have to contend with ten London derbies at home and away this season. The pick of those could be the Boxing Day visit to Arsenal but Macca - whose family will be looking forward to one north-east fixture on 10 November in particular - believes West Ham should hold no fear following their successes on the road last season.

"Derbies can be difficult but we're experienced in dealing with them from our time in the north-west, where there are a lot of local teams. It's something that the supporters will look forward to as they haven't got to travel too far. If we play half as good away from home as we did last season then we'll be OK.

"For me personally, I started my career at Newcastle so it's always the first one I look for if I'm back in the Premier League. Hopefully my Dad and my brother will want to come to that and hopefully they'll be supporting West Ham and not Newcastle!"

The confirmation of the Premier League fixtures just adds to McDonald's desire to get back to the training pitches of Chadwell Heath and certainly from his point of view, the afternoon of 18 August cannot come around quickly enough.

"You wake up on the 18 June first thing in the morning and if you're a West Ham, Reading or Southampton supporter, that's all they'll be talking about for the rest of the day. Who we have on Boxing Day, New Year's Day or the last day and when our derbies are. I think it's brilliant and great news for the fans.

"It whets the appetite to get back and get started. We've only had a shortish break but I imagine the lads will have all seen the fixtures and they'll be ready and raring to go on 1 July. We'll have plenty of time for preparation and plenty of time to get the boys fit for the first game. We're really looking forward to getting started now."

Season Tickets 2012