Sam Allardyce is determined to see West Ham United make an instant impact when they kick-off their return to the Barclays Premier League on 18 August.

The Hammers face Aston Villa at the Boleyn Ground in what will be the reverse of the first game of the Premier League season two years ago. Avram Grant's side went down 3-0 that day at Villa Park before going on to lose their first four Premier League games and Big Sam has told West Ham TV that his new-look West Ham side cannot afford a similar start.

"The first nine games up to Manchester City are ones we must try to achieve as many points as we can. It will be hugely difficult but not as difficult as what follows," he told West Ham TV. "We get through October and then November and December are the toughest months of the season, not only because of the fixtures but the number of games we have to play.

"We've got to get off to get off to a flying start and achieve as many points as we can in the first nine or ten games. The fixtures are difficult though; nothing is going to be easy at all."

West Ham TV

Although the games will be harder and West Ham may struggle to match last season's record-breaking 14 away wins, Big Sam believes the increase in quality of opposition is a small price to pay for a return to what he calls the 'most important league in the world'.

He said: "I'd had the experience of the Championship but it's not like the Premier League and the pressures that it brings are huge. The expectation is fantastic and everyone concerned has a much higher status in this industry.

"If you're a part of it you should feel pride and you should be ready to work that little bit harder for the end goal and the end goal is to finish as high up in the Premier League as we possibly can."

The Premier League fixtures were confirmed last Monday, just under a month since West Ham's season-defining victory at Wembley. Due to the Hammers' extended season, the players will return for pre-season training next Sunday just six weeks and one day after securing their return to England's top tier and for their manager, the hard work is already well underway to make sure they stay there.

"Everyone will have a long-lasting memory of their experience at Wembley. It will last many years and the ultimate goal was achieved with great professionalism and great style in the end.

"Now we've reflected on that, now we've relaxed and enjoyed ourselves it's time to start focusing on the most important league in the world and build and sustain a team that is capable of staying in that division."

Look out for part two of Big Sam's exclusive interview on West Ham TV next week.

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