West Ham United will be searching for their first home league win since the opening day when they host away-day specialists Aston Villa.
The Hammers have been largely reliant on their strong defensive organisation to gain points this season, with a lack of strikers available to manager Sam Allardyce in the absence of Andy Carroll, who is a central figure in his preferred system. Five clean sheets in their first nine games is the major reason why they are not among the bottom three, as scoring goals has unsurprisingly been their biggest problem.
Paul Lambert returns to the venue where he oversaw his first game in charge of Aston Villa in August 2012, and his side has made great progress since then, but on the evidence of last week’s defeat to Everton, they are still far from the finished article. Several chances were missed as they slumped to fourth home defeat in five league games this season, which is putting them under pressure to consistently deliver good away results.
Injuries to Mladen Petric and Ricardo Vaz Te mean that Modibo Maiga is likely to play as the lone striker with Carlton Cole not yet fit to start for West Ham, who are also without Matt Taylor.
Aston Villa have problems in the left-back position, with Antonio Luna and Joe Bennett both looking set to miss out, while Gabriel Agbonlahor is also a doubt.
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