Aston Villa match preview

Barclays Premier League
Aston Villa v West Ham United
Villa Park
Saturday 18 April
Referee: Rob Styles

• West Ham United travel to face Martin O'Neill's Aston Villa in the club's 17th away match of the 2008/09 Barclays Premier League season.

• Gianfranco Zola's side go into the match in seventh place in the Premier League table. A win could lift the Hammers within five points of sixth-placed Everton. The Toffeemen are not in league action this weekend as David Moyes' side will take on Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. Should the top-six remain the same, a seventh-place finish will be good enough to qualify for next season's inaugural UEFA Europa League.

• West Ham have won four (Fulham, Sunderland, Portsmouth, Wigan Athletic), drawn six (Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Chelsea, Newcastle United, Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers) and lost six (Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion, Hull City, Manchester United, Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur) of their away matches this season.

• The Hammers go into Saturday's match having lost just two of their last ten away matches in the Premier League. Since going down 2-0 at Manchester United on 29 October, West Ham have won at Sunderland, Portsmouth and Wigan, drawn at Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Chelsea, Newcastle, Arsenal and Blackburn and only lost at Bolton and Tottenham.

• West Ham will hope to gain revenge for the undeserved 1-0 defeat they suffered in the reverse fixture at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday 20 December. An own-goal from Lucas Neill was the only difference between the two teams.

• Aston Villa go into the weekend fifth in the Premier League table, nine points ahead of West Ham and eight points behind fourth-placed Arsenal and a UEFA Champions League place.

• This is the 88th league meeting between the two sides. West Ham have won 31, Aston Villa have won 30 and there have been 26 draws.


• Saturday's referee is Rob Styles.

• Aged 44, Styles is a qualified surveyor. After graduating from the Wessex League and Isthmian League, he joined the National List of referees in 1996.

• Styles took charge of the Second Division play-off final between Wigan and Gillingham at Wembley in 2000. The same year, he was promoted to the Premier League's Select List of referees.

• Styles' first Premier League match as the man in charge was West Ham's 1-0 home defeat by Leicester City on 23 August 2000. Leicester's goal was scored by Darren Eadie.

• Styles was promoted to the FIFA List in 2002.

• Styles took charge of the 2005 FA Cup final between Arsenal and Manchester United.

• This season, Styles has refereed 21 Premier League fixtues, issuing 66 yellow cards and sending off six players. He has yet to take charge of a West Ham fixture this season but was the man in the middle for Aston Villa's home defeat by Middlesbrough in November.

Last time out

Saturday 11 April 2009
Barclays Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 West Ham United
West Ham United: Green, Tomkins (Savio 81), Collins, Upson, Ilunga, Boa Morte (Dyer 71), Neill, Noble, Stanislas, Di Michele, Tristan (Sears 85)
Subs not used: Lastuvka, 'Gala, Lopez, Payne
Booked: Boa Morte, Neill, Di Michele, Collins, Noble

Sunday 12 April 2009
Barclays Premier League
Aston Villa 3-3 Everton
Aston Villa: Friedel, L.Young, Davies, Knight, Shorey, Milner, Petrov, Barry, A.Young, Agbonlahor (Delfouneso 54), Carew
Subs not used: Guzan, Sidwell, Salifou, Reo-Coker, Gardner, Albrighton
Goal: Carew 33, Milner 55, Barry 66 (pen)

West Ham United

• West Ham go into Saturday's match eager to return to winning ways after their five-match Premier League unbeaten run was ended at Tottenham Hotspur.

• West Ham's biggest ever away win at Aston Villa came in First Division fixture played on 2 April 1927. Vic Watson scored twice, while Stanley Earle, Joseph Johnson and Jimmy Ruffell also netted in a 5-1 victory for the Hammers in front of a crowd of 20,000 at Villa Park.

• West Ham have not lost a Premier League match by more than a single goal since going down 2-0 at home to Tottenham on Monday 8 December, a run of 16 games.

• The Hammers have been boosted this week by the news that DR Congo left-back Herita Ilunga has joined the club permanently until July 2013. The 27-year-old had been on a season-long loan from French Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse.

• Defender Matthew Upson turns 30 on Saturday.

• Midfielder Valon Behrami turns 24 on Sunday.

• Carlton Cole is West Ham's top scorer in the Premier League this season with nine goals. He has eleven in all competitions. However, Cole is ruled out of Saturday's game with a groin injury.

• Goalkeeper Robert Green is the only West Ham player to have played every minute of the club's 32 Premier League matches so far this season. Matthew Upson has started 31 games.

• Cole has been sent-off twice, more than any other West Ham player, while Noble has been shown the yellow card on eight occasions.

• Cole has unleashed more shots in total (74), on target (45) and off target (29) than any other West Ham player this season. Cole also has more assists (five) than any of his team-mates, and been caught offside (28) and committed the most fouls (62).

• Mark Noble has unleashed more crosses (29) than any other West Ham player.

• Upson has made more defensive clearances (50) and blocks (27) than any of his team-mates.

Aston Villa

• Aston Villa have lost two of the last four home Premier League matches, going down to a 1-0 defeat by Chelsea on 21 February and a 2-1 defeat by Tottenham on 15 March. Villa's last home league fixture saw them draw 3-3 with Everton on 12 April.

• Villa have failed to win any of their last seven Premier League matches and none of their previous ten games in all competitions. Martin O'Neill's team have conceded 24 goals during that period.

• Villa have drawn eight of their 16 home league games. The Midlanders have picked up 23 points at home and 30 on their travels this season.

• Villa's England forwards Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young have both been nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award by their fellow professionals.

• Villa's biggest-ever home league victory over West Ham came in the First Division on 25 April 1987. That day, the Villans ran out 4-0 winners at Villa Park in front of a crowd of just 13,584. Warren Aspinall scored twice, while Stephen Hunt and Simon Stainrod netted a goal each. Villa would end the season by being relegated to the Second Division.

• Villa have beaten West Ham at home in each of the last two seasons. In 2006/07, John Carew netted the only goal on his home debut for the club in a 1-0 victory. Last season, Craig Gardner's 24th minute free-kick was the only difference between the two sides.

• Agbonlahor is Villa's top scorer in the Premier League this season with eleven goals. Agbonlahor has 12 goals in all competitions, one less than Norwegian target-man Carew.

• England Under-21 winger James Milner will be making his 200th career Premier League appearance, having represented Leeds United, Newcastle and Villa.

• Goalkeeper Brad Friedel and England midfielder Gareth Barry have both started all 32 of Villa's Premier League matches this season. Agbonlahor has started 31 and appeared as a substitute in the other, while Luke Young, Stiliyan Petrov and Ashley Young have all made 30 league starts this term.

• Freidel will extend his record-breaking run to 185 consecutive Premier League appearances for Blackburn and Villa should he start on Saturday.

• Petrov will make his 100th start in a Villa shirt if he is involved from kick-off.

• Gareth Barry has scored four penalties this season, more than anyone else in the Premier League alongside Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, Fulham's Danny Murphy and Wigan's Amr Zaki.

• Ashley Young has unleashed more shots in total (66), on target (37) and off target (29), more crosses (121) and created more goals for his team-mates (8) than any other Villa player this season. Young has won more free-kicks (61) than any other Villa player this term.

• Martin Laursen has made more defensive blocks (40) and clearances (14) than any other Villa player this season.

Team news

• West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola will hope to welcome back midfielder Radoslav Kovac from a thigh injury. The Czech has missed the Hammers' last two fixtures.

• England midfielder Scott Parker is working hard to recover from a groin injury. Manager Zola will consider his fitness on Friday before making a decision.

• Wales defender James Collins will hope to retain his place after returning to the side following a hamstring injury in last Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Tottenham.

• England Under-20 winger Junior Stanislas will be eager to keep his starting place after scoring on his full debut against Sunderland and impressing again at White Hart Lane.

• Germany Under-20 international Savio will be pushing for a start after appearing as a substitute at Tottenham.

• England forward Kieron Dyer will be eager to be involved again after appearing as a substitute against Blackburn, Sunderland and Tottenham.

• Carlton Cole has begun his own specialised personal training programme as he continues his recovery from the groin injury he aggravated during England's 4-0 friendly win over Slovakia at Wembley last month. Cole is hoping to still have an impact before the end of the campaign.

• Zola will be without midfielders Valon Behrami and Jack Collison. Switzerland international Behrami will be out of action for around six months after suffering a anterior cruciate ligament injury in his knee, while Collison is expected to be sidelined until the end of the month after suffering a dislocated kneecap. He has started running again.

• Reserve team captain Bondz 'Gala is pushing hard for a place in the matchday 18 after travelling with the first-team squad to the recent fixtures against Wigan, West Brom and Blackburn and then being on the bench at Tottenham. The 19-year-old central defender has been in good form for Alex Dyer's reserve team this season.

• United States defender Jonathan Spector has again been ruled out of action after suffering concussion during a second-half collision with Sunderland defender Tal Ben Haim.

• Wales defender Danny Gabbidon is continuing his recovery from back and stomach injuries by working with the club's medical staff at Chadwell Heath. He is now running.

• For Villa, defenders Wilfred Bouma (ankle) and Martin Laursen (knee) are both out of action, while Spaniard Carlos Cuellar (back) and England forward Emile Heskey (hamstring) are both battling to be fit for the visit of the Hammers.

• Gabriel Agbonlahor is also facing a race against time to be fit for Saturday's fixture after suffering a hamstring strain in the 3-3 draw with Everton last Sunday.

Last meeting

• The teams met at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday 20 December. A late own-goal from home captain Lucas Neill, who inadvertently deflected James Milner's cross-shot past a helpless Robert Green, settled the contest.

• The lineups were:

West Ham United: Green, Neill, Davenport, Upson, Ilunga, Collison (Tristan 84), Noble, Parker (Mullins 46), Behrami (Bowyer 57), Bellamy, Cole
Subs not used: Lastuvka, Boa Morte, Faubert, Di Michele

Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar (Reo-Coker 58), Davies, Laursen, L.Young, Petrov, Milner, Sidwell, Barry, A.Young, Agbonlahor
Subs not used Guzan, Harewood, Delfouneso, Knight, Shorey, Gardner
Goal: Neill 78 (og)

Attendance: 31,353

Old boys

• West Ham striker Carlton Cole spent the 2004/05 season on loan at Aston Villa from Chelsea. Cole scored three goals in 30 league and cup appearances for the Villans.

• Aston Villa midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker spent three-and-a-half seasons at West Ham. The former MK Dons player made 142 appearances for the Hammers, scoring eleven goals, before making the switch to Villa in the summer of 2007 for a £7.5m fee. Since his arrival in the Midlands, the 24-year-old has 71 appearances, scoring three goals.

• Among the other players who have represented both clubs are Billy Askew, Alan Curbishley, Mervyn Day, Marlon Harewood, Ray Houghton, David James, Fred Norris, Tony Scott, Les Sealey, Nolberto Solano, Tommy Southren, David Unsworth and Phil Woosnam.

Head to head

Last six meetings (Premier League unless stated)

20 December 2008 - West Ham United 0-1 Aston Villa
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

Overall record v Aston Villa (all competitions) W 36 D 28 L 34

Next up

• West Ham will host Chelsea on Saturday 25 April, with kick-off at 3pm

• Aston Villa will travel to Bolton on Saturday 25 April, with kick-off at 3pm

General information

• For ticket information, click here

• The weather forecast for Birmingham this Saturday is for a sunny day with a maximum daytime temperature of 14C.