Villa V West Ham - Opta Preview

Aston Villa Villa Park Saturday 2nd March West Ham United 27 Games27  ATTACKING 32 Goals scored30 1.19 Ave goals per game1.11 41% Shooting Accuracy43% 11% Goals to shots %10%  PASSING 10,531 Passes10,214 75% Pass completion %74%  DEFENDING 75% Tackle success rate %72% 30 Goals conceded42 1.11 Ave goals conceded per game1.56  DISCIPLINE 383 Fouls433 31 Yellow cards52 2 Red cards3 8,908 Opta Index Score8,845
Aston Villa v West Ham United

Aston Villa are still looking for their first win under Graham Taylor since his return to the club. With games against Chelsea and Manchester United out of the way, Taylor will see Villa's clash with West Ham as the ideal launch pad for a late assault on a UEFA Cup spot for his side.

Taylor's return is not the first one he has made in his career. The former Watford boss went back to managing the Hornets in 1996 and led them to two successive promotions and a debut in the Premiership - Villa will hope he can have a similar impact in his second spell at Villa Park.

Standing in his way on Saturday is another ex-Watford manager Glenn Roeder, joined by fellow former Vicarage Road favourite, David James, who will be making his own return to the East Midlands having departed Villa in the summer.

Of the three, James will probably be the most pleased about how things have gone personally this season. The Hammers' £3.5m signing has fought back from a knee injury suffered in England's friendly clash with Holland in August 2001 to put himself back into contention for a place in the World Cup squad, his return to the side coinciding with his team's steady rise to mid-table safety.

West Ham are only four points behind Villa in the Premiership and there isn't too much to choose between the teams going forward. Villa have notched just two goals more than West Ham with the sides attempting a similar tally of efforts and the Midlanders proving the slightly more accurate. Recent fortunes in front of goal have been pretty even too - the Hammers have notched five times in their last seven league matches while Villa have only gone one better over the same period.

So this could be a cagey affair, especially when taking into account last weekend's matches. Villa couldn't find a way past Manchester United's improving rearguard as they succumbed to a Ruud van Nistelrooy goal, while West Ham struggled to break down a stubborn Middlesbrough defence until Freddie Kanoute was able to capitalise on Mark Schwarzer's costly mistake.

The Frenchman coolly teed the ball up and volleyed it into the net to take his tally to eight for the season and two in his last three matches, and his strikes alone have been worth 11 Premiership points for Roeder's men this season. With roughly half of all his efforts that are on target beating the 'keeper, Kanoute will be one for Peter Schmeichel and his defence to keep an eye on, and he is rated at 7/1 to notch the first goal at Villa Park.

Meanwhile one of the smallest men on the park, Darius Vassell, is likely to prove one of the biggest threats to the visitors. The England international netted a wonder goal on his England debut a fortnight ago and will be itching to break a goal drought in the league that amounts to 394 minutes on pitch. He will be even more fired up following Taylor's words after the United match.

Darius has to face the expectancy now and what people will want from him, said the former England manager after Saturday's televised clash with the champions.

There's every chance that Kanoute and Vassell could cancel each other out and from a betting perspective, a draw might be the best way to call this one. Incredibly eight of the last nine encounters between the two sides have ended with neither gaining the upper hand, and with so few points between the clubs the 5/2 that's available on another draw could be worth a flutter.

Mark Willis

Match referee: G. Barber

Graham Barber takes charge of Saturday's contest at Villa Park just six days after handling the northeast derby at the Stadium of Light. It could be a busy afternoon for his assistants as only Derby have been flagged offside more times than the Villans 118.

Referee's Name  FoulsPenaltiesYellow CardsRed CardsAve Disc pointsG. Barber 547 5 65 4 48.81

click below for in-depth comparisonSchmeichel v James


Paolo di Canio, Sebastian Schemmel and Trevor Sinclair all return from suspension. Glenn Roeder is without midfielders Don Hutchison, who could be out for 10 months after rupturing his cruciate ligament, and Steve Lomas who faces a month on the sidelines. Sinclair will fill one of the midfield vacancies with 20-year-old Australian Richard Garcia and Slovakian Vladimir Labant competing for the other.

Paul Merson returns to the Villa side after an ankle injury. Midfielder Lee Hendrie, who asked to be rested against Manchester United, may sit out. Villa's Turkish international central defender Alpay misses his 15th successive game with an ankle injury.

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Match Result
Aston Villa 8/11
Draw 5/2
West Ham 3/1

Correct Score
Aston Villa 1-0 6/1
Aston Villa 2-0 13/2
Aston Villa 2-1 7/1
Aston Villa 3-0 11/1
Aston Villa 3-1 11/1
Aston Villa 3-2 25/1
Aston Villa 4-0 33/1
Aston Villa 4-1 28/1
Aston Villa 4-2 50/1
Aston Villa 5-0 80/1
Aston Villa 5-1 66/1
Aston Villa 6-0 100/1
Aston Villa 6-1 100/1
Draw 0-0 8/1
Draw 1-1 13/2
Draw 2-2 16/1
Draw 3-3 50/1
West Ham 1-0 17/2
West Ham 2-0 20/1
West Ham 2-1 14/1
West Ham 3-0 40/1
West Ham 3-1 33/1
West Ham 3-2 33/1
West Ham 4-0 100/1
West Ham 4-1 100/1
West Ham 4-2 100/1

Double Result
Aston Villa/Aston Villa 7/4
Aston Villa/Draw 16/1
Aston Villa/West Ham 33/1
Draw/Aston Villa 7/2
Draw/Draw 4/1
Draw/West Ham 7/1
West Ham/Aston Villa 25/1
West Ham/Draw 16/1
West Ham/West Ham 7/1

First Goalscorer
D Vassell 4/1
J P Angel 4/1
D Dublin 11/2
P Merson 7/1
B Balaban 7/1
L Hendrie 10/1
H Kachloul 10/1
I Taylor 12/1
M Hadji 12/1
T Hitzelsperger 14/1
S Stone 16/1
G Boateng 20/1
G Barry 33/1
S Staunton 33/1
M Delaney 40/1
A Wright 50/1
L Samuel 50/1
O Mellberg 66/1
No Scorer 8/1
P Di Canio 7/1
J Defoe 7/1
F Kanoute 7/1
P Kitson 8/1
R Garcia 9/1
T Sinclair 14/1
J Cole 16/1
S Moncur 20/1
L Courtois 20/1
V Labant 25/1
I Pearce 33/1
S Schmemel 33/1
T Repka 40/1
S Minto 40/1
C Dailly 50/1
N Winterburn 50/1
R Soma 50/1
H Foxe 50/1
S Potts 66/1

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