Aston Villa preview

Barclays Premier League
Boleyn Ground
Sunday 11 May
Referee: Mike Dean

WHUTV - Pre-match press conference and live commentary to come
WESTHAM.WAP.COM - All the news, on the move


* West Ham United, tenth in the Barclays Premier League, welcome Aston Villa knowing Tottenham Hotspur, who are two points adrift, need to win at home to Liverpool in order to have a chance of denying Alan Curbishley's men a top-half finish in the 2007/08 campaign.

* Aston Villa are chasing fifth place - and a guarantee of UEFA Cup football for next season. They need to win and hope that Everton lose at home to Newcastle United. Villa are also looking over their shoulders at Blackburn Rovers and Portsmouth, one and two points adrift, respectively - although they have a far superior goal difference.

* Tottenham are the only team that can catch them from those in the bottom half of the table.

* George McCartney made his 52th consecutive appearance in all club competitions in last weekend's 4-1 defeat at Manchester United - dating back to the 2-1 win at Blackburn Rovers on 17 March 2007.

* A win would take West Ham United beyond the 50-point mark in the top flight - something the club has only managed seven times in the previous 14 seasons since 1992/93.

* West Ham United have been in the top half of the table for all but one week since the middle of November.

* For the second season running, West Ham United's last away game came at Old Trafford. At the end of the 2006/07 campaign, Curbishley's team arrived for the final fixture not certain of Barclays Premier League survival although that was confirmed with Carlos Tevez's 45th-minute winner on 13 May as Sheffield United failed to beat Wigan Athletic at home, losing 2-1.

* West Ham United are looking to prolong Aston Villa's poor run in the capital, with the midlands side not having won in London since a 2-1 victory against Alan Curbishley's Charlton Athletic on 27 March 2004.

* The clubs have drawn six of the last seven meetings at the Boleyn Ground. The last home win was a 4-0 success on 12 September 2005 when Marlon Harewood hit a hat-trick against his future employers - Yossi Benayoun got the fourth late on.

* Villa have not won any of their last eight league visits to the Boleyn Ground - although there have been two League Cup victories. The last top-flight success was a 2-0 win on 4 December 1996.

Last match

* Alan Curbishley's men lost 4-1 against Manchester United last Saturday. Two quickfire goals from Ronaldo put the champions on their way before Carlos Tevez struck a sublime third. Dean Ashton's overhead kick - the best goal of his career - pulled one back before the half-hour mark but, despite Nani's dismissal, Michael Carrick put the game out of reach on the hour.

* Villa saw their European hopes dented by a 2-0 home defeat by Wigan. Both goals came from Antonio Valencia in the second half.

Manchester United 4-1 West Ham United (2 May): Green, Pantsil, Tomkins, Neill, McCartney, Noble, Parker, Mullins (Sears 75), Boa Morte (Solano 52), Ashton (Cole 56), Zamora
Subs not used: Walker, Collison
Goals: Ronaldo 3, 24, Tevez 26, Ashton 28, Carrick 59

Aston Villa 0-2 Wigan Athletic (2 May): Carson, Mellberg, Laursen, Knight (Berger 60), Bouma (Harewood 69), Young, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Barry, Carew, Agbonlahor.
Subs not used: Taylor, Salifou, Routledge
Goals: Valencia 52, 63

Team news

* Dean Ashton, with four goals in his last seven games, came off against Manchester United with a groin problem. Fitness permitting, he will hope to compete with Bobby Zamora, Carlton Cole and Freddie Sears for a starting berth. Luis Boa Morte was also substituted with a hip problem but could still be in contention.

* Matthew Upson, Anton Ferdinand and Jonathan Spector have all not been available to the manager since the 1-0 defeat at Bolton Wanderers on 12 April, when all three started the game. Ferdinand has been training again after stepping up his running last week but it is not certain he will play.

* John Pantsil, Lucas Neill and James Tomkins have all deputised in their absence with Neill and Tomkins forming a central defensive partnership. Pantsil has played 90 minutes in the last three matches in a row, the first time he has done that since joining the club.

* Freddie Ljungberg is out for four weeks with a cracked rib suffered early in the first half against Newcastle. Julien Faubert also missed out on the Manchester United game with a tight hamstring.

* Villa are likely to have a fully-fit squad to choose from except for Craig Gardner (thigh) and Curtis Davies (achilles), although the former is back in training. Patrik Berger will also not play because of comments made to the media regarding the future of Villa captain Gareth Barry. John Carew has been battling a groin injury of late.


* After 37 games last season, West Ham United were three points from the relegation zone and had just 38 points compared to the 48 they have achieved from the same number of matches this campaign.

* West Ham United and Aston Villa last met at Villa Park on 6 October when Craig Gardner's deflected 24th-minute strike was all that separated the teams. The day was marred by an injury to Ashton that would rule him out of the next five games.

* The lineups were:

Aston Villa: Carson, Mellberg, Laursen, Knight, Bouma, Gardner (Petrov 78), Reo-Coker, Barry, Agbonlahor, Moore (Maloney 66), Young
Subs not used: Taylor, Davies, Osbourne

West Ham United: Green, Neill, Gabbidon, Upson, McCartney, Ljungberg, Bowyer, Mullins (Noble 80), Etherington (Boa Morte 81), Ashton, Camara (Cole 36)
Subs not used: Wright, Collins

* McCartney has now made 43 appearances this season in all competitions. He has not missed a match since sitting out the 4-3 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur on 4 March 2007 - an unbroken run of 52 games.

* McCartney is the only West Ham United player who has featured in every league and cup game to date, starting in each one.

* In terms of the Premier League, only Green has played every minute of the 37 matches.

* Villa have used just 22 players this season compared to the 29 deployed by Alan Curbishley in all competitions.

* Wilfred Bouma and Martin Lauresen have both started every Premier League game for Villa this season, although have not played every minute.

* Ashton, with ten goals, nine in the league, is the club's leading scorer. John Carew with 13 goals, all in the top flight, is the visitors' leading marksman.

* A Dean Ashton hat-trick would move him level with Jermain Defoe and Wayne Rooney (both on 12 goals) as the league's leading English marksmen. Gabriel Agbonlahor and Steven Gerrard have scored eleven and Frank Lampard ten. Two of Defoe's goals have been penalties.

* Carlton Cole spent the 2004/05 campaign on loan from Chelsea at Villa Park, making 18 starts and nine substitute appearances in the league, scoring three goals.

* Villa have two former West Ham United players. Nigel Reo-Coker played 142 times for the club - including eleven goals in 120 league appearances between January 2004 and last summer's switch to Villa Park. Marlon Harewood also made the same move back in July, after 56 goals in 170 league and cup appearances from his debut in November 2003.

* Hayden Mullins could make his 100th appearance in the Premier League. Bobby Zamora is also one game away from his century of starts for West Ham United.

* Olof Mellberg will be making his final appearance for Villa before a summer switch to Juventus.

Last six meetings (all league)

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
12 April 2003 - West Ham United 2-2 Aston Villa

All-time record v Aston Villa (all competitions) - W36 D27 L33

Weekend fixtures (all kick-offs 3pm)

Sunday 11 May

Birmingham City v Blackburn Rovers
Chelsea v Bolton Wanderers
Derby County v Reading
Everton v Newcastle United
Middlesbrough v Manchester City
Portsmouth v Fulham
Sunderland v Arsenal
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool
Wigan Athletic v Manchester United

General information

Tickets: This match is SOLD OUT. For general ticket information, click here. Please note the ticket office will be closed on Monday 12 and Tuesday 13 May. For details of getting to the Boleyn Ground, click here

Weather: The forecast is for a sunny afternoon. The temperature is set to peak around the 24C mark.