Aston Villa match preview

Barclays Premier League
West Ham United v Aston Villa
Boleyn Ground
Saturday 20 December
Referee: Mark Halsey

WHUTV - Full audio commentary


* West Ham United welcome Martin O'Neill's Aston Villa for the club's ninth home match of the 2008/09 Barclays Premier League season.

* United have won three home league matches (Wigan Athletic, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United), drawn one (Portsmouth) and lost four (Bolton Wanderers, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur).

* Gianfranco Zola's men go into Saturday's match having drawn 1-1 at Chelsea last time out. Craig Bellamy's 33rd-minute opener was cancelled out by Nicolas Anelka's 51st minute equaliser at Stamford Bridge.

* The Hammers head into the match having not lost at home in the league to Aston Villa since 4 December 1996. Since then, United are nine Premier League games unbeaten at home to the Villans.

*West Ham United manager Zola has a strong squad to choose from. Only Dean Ashton, Danny Gabbidon and Kieron Dyer are definitely unavailable.

* Zola's side go into this weekend's match 16th in the table with 19 points. However, the Hammers sit just two points behind tenth-placed Fulham.

* Aston Villa enter the weekend fourth in the Barclays Premier League table with 31 points from 17 games. Martin O'Neill's side have won five and lost three of their eight away matches. The Villains were in action in midweek, losing 3-1 at Bundelsiga side Hamburg in the UEFA Cup.

* Saturday marks the second home game at which West Ham United have worn shirts bearing the logo of new sponsors SBOBET. The Isle of Man-based online sports bookmakers have signed a lucrative 18-month sponsorship deal with the Hammers. Hoardings and LED boards bearing the company's logo are also on display at the Boleyn Ground.

* This is the fifth consecutive West Ham United match to be screened live on television. The Hammers' away trips to Sunderland, Liverpool and Chelsea and home game against Tottenham Hotspur were also shown live.

* West Ham United face a busy festive season after Saturday's game. The Hammers head to Portsmouth on Boxing Day before hosting Stoke City on 28 December. United's first game of 2009 is an FA Cup third-round tie against Championship side Barnsley at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday 3 January.

*This is the 87th league meeting between the two sides. Aston Villa have won 29, West Ham United have won 31 and there have been 26 draws.

Last time out (league)

Sunday 14 December
Chelsea 1-1 West Ham United

West Ham United:
Green, Neill, Upson, Davenport, Ilunga, Collison (Boa Morte 87), Parker, Noble (Mullins 72), Behrami, Bellamy (Di Michele 90), Cole
Subs not used: Lastuvka, Faubert, Tristan, Sears
Goal: Bellamy 33

Saturday 13 December
Aston Villa 4-2 Bolton Wanderers

Aston Villa:
Friedel, Cuellar, Laursen, Davies, Luke Young, Sidwell, Petrov, Barry, Milner (Reo-Coker 68), Agbonlahor (Shorey 87), Ashley Young (Harewood 81)
Subs not used: Guzan, Delfouneso, Knight, Gardner.
Goals: Agbonlahor 25, Davies 40 og, Agbonlahor 67, Ashley Young 78.

Team news

* United States international defender Jonathan Spector is close to first-team action again after making a successful recovery from a hip injury. The 22-year-old has come through two reserve team matches in the past ten days.

*James Collins has recovered from a calf injury suffered in training. The Wales defender was forced to miss last Sunday's 1-1 draw at Chelsea but returned to full training this week although it is not yet known if he will be in contention this weekend.

* Diego Tristan will be hoping to be involved after scoring twice in the 4-3 Barclays Premier Reserve League South win over Chelsea at Bishop's Stortford. The 32-year-old Spain striker struck a low, fizzing 25-yard strike in the first half to open the scoring before adding a late header to put the Hammers 4-2 ahead. The former Deportivo La Coruna forward has made one substitute appearance for the club to date, against Tottenham Hotspur.

* Uruguayan international Walter Lopez was also in impressive form at Woodside Park, playing a role in three of West Ham United's four goals from a left midfield berth.

*Matthew Etherington and Lee Bowyer have both trained this week after recovering from the flu. Bowyer had previously been suffering from a hip injury, having played his part in the 1-0 win at Sunderland last month.

* Saturday's game has come too soon for England forward Kieron Dyer. The 29-year-old made a successful comeback from his double leg break in a behind-closed-doors match against an MLS select under-21 touring side on Thursday 11 December. Dyer completed an hour before being replaced, as planned. However, he has since been laid low with a bout of flu.

*Also missing are long-term injury victims Dean Ashton (ankle) and Danny Gabbidon (stomach). Both continue to make progress alongside the squad at Chadwell Heath.

* Aston Villa were in UEFA Cup action on Wednesday when a much-changed side without the likes of Brad Friedel, Martin Laursen, Gareth Barry, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young were rested. They lost 3-1 at Hamburg although were already assured of a place in the knockout stage.

* John Carew has been troubled by a back problem of late and could miss the trip to east London, when Agbonlahor will look to add to his nine league goals this season. Only Cristiano Ronaldo with 14 has scored more.


*The teams last met at Boleyn Ground on Sunday 11 May 2008 when Dean Ashton's 88th-minute equaliser ensured West Ham United ended the 2007/08 season with a 2-2 draw. Earlier, Nolberto Solano had given the Hammers an eighth-minute lead, only for goals from Ashley Young and Gareth Barry to put Villa ahead.

*The lineups were:

West Ham United: Green, Neill, Tomkins, Ferdinand, McCartney (Pantsil 46), Solano (Sears 80), Noble, Parker, Boa Morte, Zamora (Cole 73), Ashton
Subs not used: Richard Wright, Mullins
Goals: Solano 8, Ashton 88

Aston Villa: Carson, Mellberg, Laursen, Knight, Bouma, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Barry, Ashley Young, Carew (Harewood 87), Agbonlahor
Subs not used: Taylor, Salifou, Routledge, Maloney
Goals: Ashley Young 14, Barry 58

Attendance: 34,969

* Carlton Cole will be playing against the team where he spent the 2004/05 season on loan. Cole scored three goals in 30 league and cup appearances (20 starts) for the Villains.

* Robert Green is the only West Ham United player who has appeared in every minute every one of the club's 17 Premier League fixtures this season.

* Matthew Upson has started every one of the club's 17 Premier League games this season, but was substituted in the 3-1 home defeat by Everton in November.

* Scott Parker is one caution away from an automatic one-game ban for five yellow cards.

*Nigel Reo-Coker and Marlon Harewood could both face their former club. Reo-Coker made 142 league and cup appearances between January 2004 and July 2007 and scored eleven goals. Harewood played 170 times for United in all competitions, scoring 56 goals between November 2003 and July 2007.

Head to head (last six meetings, league unless stated)

11 May 2008 - West Ham United 2-2 Aston Villa
6 October 2007 - Aston Villa 1-0 West Ham United
3 February 2007 - Aston Villa 1-0 West Ham United
10 September 2006 - West Ham United 1-1 Aston Villa
14 January 2006 - Aston Villa 1-2 West Ham United
12 September 2005 - West Ham United 4-0 Aston Villa

Overall record v Aston Villa (all competitions) W 36, D 28, L 33

General information

For ticket information, click here.

For details on getting to the Boleyn Ground, click here

Travel news: The District Line will be suspended between Upminster and Barking on Saturday. Two replacement bus services will operate.

Engineering works will also take place between Barking and Upminster on c2c services. A full Saturday service will run, however minor re-timings will occur to Laindon and Ockendon services. Only trains from London are affected by re-timings. Semi-fast Laindon services will depart Fenchurch Street two minutes later and run five minutes later from Upminster. Laindon services calling at all stations will run three minutes later from Upminster. Ockendon services will depart three minutes earlier from Fenchurch Street. Rainham services will not be affected by these engineering works.

Weather: The forecast is for light rain. The temperature is not expected to get above 12C