West Ham United v Aston Villa – Premier League – London Stadium – Monday 8pm – Preview
It should have been more convincing, but Brian Dear didn’t give two hoots after watching West Ham United record their first top-flight win at Sheffield United in more than half a century.
Dear arrived as a second-half replacement for Frank Lampard that April afternoon in 1968 – Geoff Hurst netting both the goals in a 2-1 success. And having watched from the sofa as Sebastien Haller ended the fairly miserable run which followed, the former frontman believes the East Londoners are developing into a solid unit, more than capable of sustaining a place in the top half of the Premier League.
“On current form, we are flying,” Dear enthused.
“Four wins and two draws from our last seven league matches prove we are heading in the right direction under David Moyes and capable of a top ten finish.
“I didn’t think we were at our best either at Bramall Lane or against Fulham before the international break, but we have dug in, ground out six points and kept two clean sheets. We can’t ask for much more than that.”
Sitting eighth in the Premier League, the Hammers now turn their attentions to an Aston Villa side that has made notable progress following last seasons battle to avoid a swift return to the Championship.
“Villa have done really well,” Dear added.
“Of course, Jack Grealish in the focal point of the side. They have shown what they are capable of by thrashing Liverpool 7-2 and turning Arsenal over at the Emirates.
“But three defeats to Brighton, Leeds and Southampton amongst their last four games displays they are still vulnerable. They have conceded nine goals in that sequence, perhaps suggesting defensively they arent quite there yet?
“Ironically, it’s at the back I think we have been at our strongest of late. Not just the clean sheets, but the performances against Manchester City and Liverpool too – the latter we were very unlucky to come away empty-handed after falling victim to a rediculous penalty decision.
“The league table suggests there isn’t a lot in it between the sides. But I think we have the momentum at teh moment. Admittedly, we will have to be better than we were against Sheffield United and Fulham, but I think we can extend the winning run and jump above them in the league.”
Brian Dear’s prediction: West Ham United 1-0 Aston Villa
Jeevesie’s prediction: West Ham United 1-1 Aston Villa