Aston Villa match preview

Barclays Premier League
Aston Villa v West Ham United
Villa Park
Saturday 14 August 2010
Kick-off: 3pm
Referee: Mike Dean



• West Ham United kick off the 2010/11 campaign with a trip to the Midlands to take on managerless Aston Villa. The game will be Avram Grant's first competitive fixture in charge of the club after he became the club's 13th manager on 3 June 2010.

• West Ham have not lost in their last three matches against Villa, with 0-0 and 1-1 draws in the last two outings at Villa Park either side of a 2-1 win in east London on 4 November 2009. The stadium also holds happy memories after the 1-0 win against Middlesbrough in the 2006 FA Cup semi-final on 23 April 2006.

• The Hammers have played seven matches during the summer, winning the first five and drawing the last two - the last of those fixtures against RC Deportivo La Coruna in the SBOBET Cup last weekend actually culminating with a 5-3 shoot-out win for the Hammers.

• In pre-season, Avram Grant's men secured victories over League One outfit Peterborough United (2-1), German side VfL Borussia Monchengladbach (2-0), Greek champions Panathinaikos (1-0), League One outfit MK Dons (2-0), Championship club Ipswich Town (1-0) before a draw at Southend United (1-1). The final summer contest was that Deportivo date when Pablo Barrera struck the winning penalty after Rob Green had made a save.

• Saturday's fixture could see Hammers league debuts for Thomas Hitzlsperger - a fitness worry - Pablo Barrera, Frederic Piquionne, Tal Ben Haim and Winston Reid. Hitzlsperger, Barrera and Piquionne have all played during the summer, while Ben Haim has just a 45-minute reserve run-out under his belt and Reid has yet to figure.

• The Hammers last won a Barclays Premier League match on the road at Wolverhampton Wanderers almost exactly a year ago. The 2-0 victory at Molineux came on 15 August 2009 before the next 18 awaydays saw the Hammers never once take the full three points, along with a Carling Cup third-round loss at Bolton Wanderers.

• West Ham finished 17th last season with just 35 points, although were most successful against Aston Villa and relegated Portsmouth - winning at home and drawing away.

• Villa secured UEFA Europa League football this season with a sixth-placed finish in 2009/10 - the third time in a row that they ended up in that relatively lofty league position.

• The Hammers have won seven, drawn one and lost seven of their opening Premier League games since its inception in 1992.

• Two 3-1 wins count as their best-ever start to a Premier League season. A 3-1 win at home to Charlton Athletic in 2006 was matched by a defeat of Blackburn Rovers by the same score in 2005

• The biggest opening-day defeat in the Barclays Premier League came in 2002, when Newcastle United won 4-0 at St James' Park.

• West Ham have not drawn the opening game since 1994, when they drew 0-0 with Leeds United at Elland Road.

• Carlton Cole was West Ham's leading scorer last season with 10 top-flight goals.

• Robert Green topped the appearance charts for the last campaign, playing every minute of every Premier League game. He has played 126 consecutive top-flight matches. He started the last 12 games of the 2006/07 campaign and every one of the 38 games in each of the last three campaigns.

• Brad Friedel, his opposite number on Saturday, is the league leader for consecutive starts - having made 228 appearances in a row in the top-flight - having played every game in the Barclays Premier League for the last six seasons.

• Aston Villa began last season with a 2-0 home defeat by Wigan Athletic. This is the fourth season in a row that they have started the campaign at Villa Park, with two defeats and a win in the previous three first games.

Last meeting

• The last meeting between the two sides was the 0-0 draw at Villa Park on 17 January this year. The match was notable for 18-year-old Frank Nouble leading the line on his own on his first start for the club.

The lineups were:

Aston Villa: Friedel, Warnock, Cuellar, Dunne, Collins, Downing, Milner, Young, Petrov, Heskey (Carew 57), Agbonlahor
Subs not used: Guzan, Sidwell, Young, Delph, Delfouneso, Beye

West Ham United: Green, Upson, Spector, Tomkins, Parker (Diamanti 57), Kovac (Stanislas 62), Noble, Behrami, Faubert, Collison, Nouble (Da Costa 89)
Subs not used: Kurucz, Jimenez, Daprela, Sears

• This is the 91st league meeting between the two sides. West Ham have won 32, Aston Villa have won 30 and there have been 28 draws.

Head to head

Last six meetings (Premier League unless stated)

17 January 2010 - Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham United
4 November 2009 - West Ham United 2-1 Aston Villa
18 April 2009 - Aston Vila 1-1 West Ham United
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

Overall record v Aston Villa (all competitions) W 37 D 30 L 34

Last time out

Saturday 7 August 2010
West Ham United 0-0 RC Deportivo La Coruna (Hammers win 5-3 on penalties)
West Ham United: Green, Tomkins, Gabbidon (Barrera 63), Upson, Ilunga, Parker, Noble, Hitzlsperger (Boa Morte 75), Faubert, Diamanti (Piquionne 63), Cole
Subs: Stech, Daprela, Spector, Da Costa, Kovac, Stanislas

Friday 6 August 2010
Aston Villa 0-0 Valencia
Aston Villa: Friedel (Guzan 63), Beye, Clark (Lowry 82), Dunne (Warnock 46), L Young (Lichaj 73), Albrighton (Delfouneso 63), Petrov (Sidwell 63), Reo-Coker (Salifou 82), Downing, A Young (Weimann 73), Carew (Heskey 46).

West Ham United

• Avram Grant's West Ham United will be aiming to continue the form shown in pre-sason, which has seen them defeat League One new boys Peterborough United (2-1) at London Road, German Bundesliga challengers VfL Borussia Monchengladbach (2-0) in Ruhpolding, Greek double winners Panathinaikos (1-0) in the Austrian town of Kitzbuhel, MK Dons (2-0) at stadium:mk and Ipswich Town (1-0) at Portman Road. The away schedule was completed by the 1-1 draw at Southend before the goalless draw against RC Deportivo La Coruna and subsequent 5-3 penalty shoot-out win.

• Carlton Cole has been in fine form in pre-season, scoring in the victories over Peterborough, Monchengladbach and MK Dons with just 45 minute run-outs in each contest before adding a fourth in six games against Ipswich.

• Benni McCarthy scored his first goal for the club this summer with a fine half-volley against Monchengladbach.

• Thomas Hitzlsperger, on 99 Barclays Premier League appearances, made a bright start to his West Ham career following his summer arrival from SS Lazio, scoring his first goal for the club with a direct free-kick in the 1-0 victory over Panathinaikos.

• Julien Faubert was also off the mark this summer, netting the first against MK Dons, having assisted on McCarthy's goal against Monchengladbach.

• West Ham United went 471 minutes without conceding this summer between Peter Kurucz being beaten by Peterborough United's Dave Hibbert in the 49th minute of the meeting on 14 July and Anthony Grant firing past Marek Stech in the 70th minute of the 3 August game at Southend. In between there were four clean sheets against Monchengladbach, Panathinaikos, MK Dons and Ipswich.

• The November 2009 victory over Villa was West Ham United's first in eight attempts. Their previous maximum came when a Marlon Harewood hat-trick helped them to a 4-0 win at the Boleyn Ground in September 2005.

• The Hammers have won at Villa Park twice, in 1995 and 2006, since the inception of the Premier League.

• West Ham's biggest ever away win at Aston Villa came in a Division One 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.

Aston Villa

• Villa will be managed for the first time by caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald after Martin O'Neill's surprise resignation on Tuesday. O'Neill had been at the Boleyn to watch the Deportivo match last Saturday.

• Villa's biggest-ever home league victory over West Ham came in Division One 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 Division Two.

• The club picked up 64 points last season, their best since a second-place finish in 1993.

• John Carew top scored for the club last season with 17 goals, ten of which came in the league.

Team news

• West Ham United manager Avram Grant is waiting for more news on Thomas Hitzlsperger after he picked up a thigh problem in captaining Germany in midweek away to Denmark. Pablo Barrera and Frederic Piquionne are the most likely players to make their competitive debuts for the club after summer arrivals, with Tal Ben Haim and Winston Reid short of match practice.

• Peter Kurucz has joined Jack Collison and Zavon Hines on the long-term injured list after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament last Saturday.

• Kieron Dyer, Benni McCarthy and Freddie Sears have all been training this week. McCarthy (hamstring) and Sears (thigh) had minor issues while Dyer's return to fitness is being carefully managed.

• Valon Behrami went away with Switzerland in midweek after 45 minutes for the reserves last weekend alongside Ben Haim but did not play.

• For Villa. Carlos Cuellar and James Collins are both out with hamstring and calf problems, but they hope to have Gabriel Agbonlahor (hamstring) and Curtis Davies (knee) fit to play.

• James Milner is in the matchday squad, despite being linked with a move to Manchester City.

Marc Albrighton, who made his England Under-21 bow in midweek, could get his first top-flight start on the wing.

Old boys

• James Collins will be prevented from facing West Ham United for the second time since leaving the Boleyn Ground just under a year ago. The central defender left swapped London for Birmingham on 1 September 2009 for an undisclosed fee after making 65 appearances in all competitions, scoring two goals.

• 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 Villa.

• Thomas Hitzlsperger spent five seasons at Villa Park after leaving Bayern Munich in August 2000. He left in the summer of 2005 after making 99 league appearances for the club and picking up the nickname Der Hammer because of his powerful left foot.

• 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.

• 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.


• Saturday's referee will be Mike Dean, who last took charge of the Hammers with the 2-0 home win against Birmingham City back on 10 February 2010.

• Dean began refereeing in 1985, starting out his career in senior football in the Northern Premier League.

• In 2004, Dean took charge of his first international match, a friendly between the Netherlands and Republic of Ireland at Amsterdam Arena. That same year, he took control of the FA Community Shield between Arsenal and Manchester United.

• In May 2006, he refereed the Championship play-off final between Leeds United and Watford at the Millennium Stadium. In 2008, he was the man-in-the-middle for the FA Cup final between Portsmouth and Cardiff City at Wembley Stadium.

General information

• The weather forecast on Saturday afternoon is for heavy showers with temperatures set to peak at around 20C

• Tickets are all sold out

Next up

• West Ham welcome Bolton Wanderers on Saturday week... For details of how to purchase tickets, click here.

• Villa are in UEFA Europa League qualifying action on Thursday when they travel to Austrian side SK Rapid Wien.