Hammers favourites for most things these days
Everything David Moyes seems to touch at the moment is turning to gold. Even the Carabao Cup holders Manchester City couldn’t get a win against the Hammers in midweek and it was the Londoners who booked their quarter-final spot with a 5-3 triumph on penalties against Pepe Gaurdiola’s team. They beat the noisy neighbours too in the previous round.
Both made plenty of changes with eight for the Irons and nine for their opponents, City take the competition uber-seriously, and in the past I have been critical of West Ham for waiving a good run, but it means they are now pushing for silverware on at least three fronts. Backing Moyes’ side to win the league cup offers a price of 7.06/1 on the Exchange market, and they have even usurped the great Napoli as Europa League favourites following their perfect start in that competition – they now trade at 12.011/1.
We’ve all seen the Manchester United tweet from 2013 doing the rounds this week, when then-manager Moyes called for the Reds to improve on their passing, defending and creating chances – a tweet that has survived to be apt today.
They are currently on an xG figure of 1.87 for the season, and allowing just 1.30 xG at the other end. Kurt Zouma was an excellent signing and they have only conceded two goals in their last eight across all competitions.
I attended the game against Brentford – a game they deserved a point from with all their attacking play, but they did start slowly and I am sure good mates Thomas Frank and Dean Smith would have had a chat about this fixture. I was very impressed with how the Bees had numbers in the transition and are clearly coached very well, but West Ham had the chances to win the game and I feel the final piece of the jigsaw would be an out-and-out goalscorer. Michail Antonio and Jarred Bowen both make similar runs using the full width of the pitch to drag defenders wide, and while Said Benrahma has been deployed in a more advanced role, a number nine would complete the team.
Alex Kral has returned to training after isolating following a positive Covid test and Vladimir Coufal got valuable minutes under his belt against Manchester City on Wednesday. Ben Johnson excelled in midweek and earned praise from Stuart Pearce. Arthur Masuaku also returned to the side against City.
Sloppy Villa cannot afford another Wolves
Clean sheets for Aston Villa however remain a slight problem, with only two at home against Newcastle and Everton so far. They were on for a third in the big derby against Wolves thanks to Danny Ings and John McGinn, but they went to pieces in the final 15 minutes losing three goals and local pride, and the points in the 95th.
Smith may have taken the flak for that with his in-game switches and three substitutions, but their set-piece defending was poor and for a game they looked in total control, it was worrying how they lost the points. The Villa boss admitted his side had dropped their standards in the Spurs defeat in the game previously and they were well and truly thumped last time out against Arsenal 3-1.
The Villains didn’t manage a single shot in the first half at the Emirates – the first time that has happened to Arsenal in over three years. And considering how Mikel Arteta’s defence can get bullied so easily, that’s a bit of a horror stat. Villa have now lost six of their past nine away Premier League games (won three), as many as in their previous 19 on the road (won seven, drawn six). So it will be some relief they are back at home and the big question is whether the hosts play a back three or back four.
They have certainly struggled going forward this season and their chance creation is lower this time around Smith confirmed goalkeeper Emi Martinez will be back, despite flying home this week for “personal issues” but midfielder Morgan Sanson misses out with illness and winger Trezeguet is still “coming back from injury”.
On Saturday’s opponents he said: “They’re a very good team with a very good coach. He’s got them playing well in the league and Europe. They have a very good squad and way of playing that suits all their players.”
He didn’t say that about me as I was lucky enough to play alongside Smith in a game at Leyton Orient many years ago, and he called me the greediest player he had ever seen. One of the nicest guys I used to interview when he was Os captain.
West Ham were easy 1-3 winners the last time they visited Villa Park, inspired by a brace from Jesse Lingard that day. The Irons are now unbeaten in their last seven away Premier League matches (five wins, two draws) – last having a longer unbeaten run on the road in the top-flight between August and November 1986 (eight in a row), so backing the visitors as the favourites at around 2.526/4 makes a lot of sense. Villa have lost all three of their Premier League games in October 2021 – the last time they played as many as four league games in a month and lost every single one was in April 2016 (lost 5/5).
Although they up on the head-to-head with 13 wins to 11, with 15 clean sheets against West Ham’s 14.
Villa look too short at 3.02/1 and they are winless in their last six Premier League meetings with West Ham (D3 L3) since a 1-0 home win in May 2015, and while I respect they are dangerous on their decent home form earlier, the recent heavy losses and the brain fade against Wolves means I would want a little bit more.
We were successful in backing in the draw outright last weekend and with the hosts needing to get back on track following some defensive blips, we can utilise the 3.65 bet to use as a back-to-lay trade during the game. West Ham have won 17 points from their nine Premier League games this season (W5 D2 L2), their best start to a season since 2015-16, which certainly justifies their price.
Only Mohamed Salah (10 goals, 5 assists) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals than West Ham’s Michail Antonio this season (6 goals, 3 assists). Since David Moyes returned to the club in January 2020, Antonio has 25 goals and 10 assists in 49 appearances, 14 more goal involvements than any other Hammers player.
The striker has been boosted on the Sportsbook to score a header from 5/1 to 6/1. Using the Betbuilder with the Jamaican international to net at anytime and the draw pays 8/1.
Aston Villa striker Danny Ings has faced West Ham in the Premier League more often without ever scoring than he has any other opponent (9 games). Indeed, he’s also ended on the losing side in eight of his nine appearances against the Hammers in the top-flight, drawing the other. Ings and the draw pays 7/1 on the Betbuilder.
The Over 2.5 Goals is the early market leader at 1.804/5, which could be a case of recency bias judged on their three most recent games where they have conceded six in eight. Smith maintains it’s not the system back the lack of concentration, and they did keep out Manchester United and earned a 1-1 with Brentford. On the first three games, defensively at least, I would rather back the Under 2.5 at 2.26/5.