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There were tangible concerns over West Ham’s ability to sustain their excellent form from last season once their Europa League campaign began, but David Moyes’s side have proved more than up to the task.
The Hammers currently find themselves fourth in the league with a 100% record in Europe, while they have dumped both Manchester clubs out of the League Cup as an added bonus. They have picked up an impressive 10 points from four league games on the road this season and are unbeaten in six away games in all competitions. They face an Aston Villa side on Sunday who have been underwhelming after what appeared to be a very promising summer.
Sunday 5.30pm – Aston Villa v West Ham
Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Premier League
Dean Smith’s side started reasonably well, recording impressive victories over Man United and Everton inside the opening six games. But, they have now lost three league games on the bounce, while their performances have provided little room for optimism.
Below-par showings at Arsenal and Tottenham sandwiched a calamitous home loss to local rivals Wolves, with Villa conceding three goals in 15 minutes to turn a 2-0 lead into a 3-2 defeat. Villa appear to be stuck in something of a rut and could be put to the sword by a high-flying West Ham.
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Villa may be enduring a poor run of form, but they have at least been able to find the back of the net in their last five league games. In fact, Villa have only drawn a blank on one occasion this season – in a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea where they matched the hosts for expected goals.
They boast a menacing attack that is capable of creating and scoring against most teams and should find some joy against West Ham on Sunday. On the other hand, West Ham have kept a clean sheet in each of their last four games in all competitions, but have conceded more than one goal a game on average. The Hammers won this fixture 3-1 last season and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see a similar scoreline on Sunday.
Michail Antonio appears to be getting better with age and is well on course to surpass his career-best of 10 Premier League goals in a single season, provided he can steer clear of injury. The 31-year-old has scored six goals in nine league games this term and finds himself third in the early season scoring charts behind Mohamed Salah and Jamie Vardy.
He is a nuisance to whichever defence he comes up against and could wreak havoc against a Villa side that has shipped 15 goals in nine league games. He is West Ham’s biggest goal threat by some distance and has earned The Hammers five of their 17 points so far this season. It is hard to back against him when he is in this type of form.
Mings is already walking a suspension tightrope after just nine league games after already picking up four yellow cards. Only Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis has picked up more yellow cards than the Villa centre back at this early stage of the season, while no Villa player has made more fouls than Mings aside from Douglas Luiz and John McGinn.
Mings will have his hands full with Antonio on Sunday and is likely to commit at least one foul against the Hammers. Antonio is among the top-15 most-fouled players in the league, while Pablo Fornals, Jarrod Bowen, and Said Benrahma are all difficult players to deal with. Mings could very easily pick up an early-season suspension here.
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Some more for Sunday
- BEST BETS: Paddy’s ultimate guide for this weekend
- THOMMO: My 3 Sunday best for Norwich v Leeds
- BEST BETS: 3 punts for Norwich v Leeds on Sunday
- THOMMO: 3 for glee ahead of Villa v West Ham