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Villa might have lost Jack Grealish over the summer, but an exciting transfer window for the club saw them bring in the likes of Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings; as a result, expectations were high at the start of the season, but it has not quite been the start that the supporters would have expected.
Smith’s side ended September with back-to-back league wins over Everton and Manchester United, but they have now lost their last three in England’s top flight to Tottenham Hotspur, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal, conceding eight times in the process.
A record of three wins, one draw and five defeats has left them down in 13th position in the table on 10 points, and they will now be looking to bounce back against a West Ham side that are unbeaten in this fixture since May 2015, with the Hammers also winning both league meetings last term.
Villa found it difficult to compete at the Emirates Stadium in their last league game on October 22, falling three goals behind early in the second half before Jacob Ramsey netted a late consolation.
The home side have a very tough December on paper, taking on Manchester City, Liverpool, Leicester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, so the club’s supporters will be hoping that November is a successful month.
Smith admitted during Friday’s press conference that Leon Bailey needs to be ‘managed’, and the head coach will make a late decision on the attacker’s involvement, but he should be available to start.
Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings are also both expected to be in the XI, while Ramsey’s impressive performance off the bench against Arsenal could see the midfielder come in for a start.
As for West Ham, Alex Kral is back in training after his spell in isolation following a positive coronavirus test, while Vladimir Coufal returned from injury as a substitute against Man City in the EFL Cup.
Ben Johnson‘s form could see Coufal stay on the bench for this match, though, and the right-back spot is the only major talking point in terms of team selection, with Moyes not expected to make any surprising calls.
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Indeed, Michail Antonio will lead the line with support from Jarrod Bowen, Said Benrahma and Pablo Fornals in the deeper areas, while Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek will feature as the two central midfielders.
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Ramsey, Luiz, McGinn; Bailey, Ings, Watkins
West Ham United possible starting lineup:
Fabianski; Johnson, Zouma, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Benrahma, Fornals; Antonio