How Aston Villa Will Line Up Against West Ham United
Paul Lambert's men were decent in spells but were undone by the Romelu Lukaku-inspired Toffees and currently lie in 13th place with 10 points from nine matches.
Villa's season has been OK. Average. Alright. And any other word that sits somewhere in between "good" and "bad."
The claret and blues have produced a number of promising performances along the way, though they've also played below par on a few occasions, too. But, to be fair to Villa, they've had a pretty tough start.
Metro report that the average league position (prior to kick-off) of Villa's nine opponents so far was 7th—higher than any other club's opposition.
In stark contrast to that, the average league position of Premier League leaders Arsenal's opponents was 14th. So not all is doom and gloom over at B6.
The Birmingham-based side will look to get back to winning ways on Saturday with Paul Lambert more-than-likely opting for the following side.
GK. Brad Guzan
Brad Guzan may have only kept two clean sheets this season—and two in his last 31 games for Villa—but he is the first pick on the teamsheet each week.
The American stopper will have been less than impressed with his performance against Everton where he conceded at his near post on two occasions, but he'll look to get back to his very best against the Hammers on Saturday.
RB. Matthew Lowton
Matt Lowton has been out of the picture for some time following a very shaky start to the season, epitomised by his dreadful performance in Villa's 2-1 defeat at home to Newcastle.
The former Sheffield United full-back was replaced by right-sided utility man Leandro Bacuna, who has since made the position his own.
A few injuries in Lambert's ranks will probably see the Villa boss change formation and his team this weekend, so expect to see Lowton given the nod in defence.
CB. Ron Vlaar
Villa's captain will again feature at centre-half. The imposing Dutchman has been a rock at the heart of Villa's defence this season and has been one of Lambert's star men.
West Ham aren't the most physical team but do play high-tempo football and like to get down the wings, sending lots of balls into their opposition's penalty area. Vlaar will have to play to his usual high standards to keep out Sam Allardyce's men.
CB. Nathan Baker
Nathan Baker has featured alongside Vlaar for Villa's last two games—defeats at the hands of Tottenham and Everton—and will certainly keep his place in the side for the trip to East London.
The 22-year-old is still learning his trade and is prone to making the odd defensive error, but his physical presence and ability to command the area around him will prove vital on Saturday.
LB. Ciaran Clark
First-choice left-back Antonio Luna suffered a hamstring injury in last week's clash with Everton and Lambert has since confirmed that he'll be sidelined for a couple of weeks.
Expect Ciaran Clark to fill in at left-back. The left-footed Irishman has played in the position many times during his career and will have no problem doing so yet again.
RM. Leandro Bacuna
Leandro Bacuna has performed superbly since his inclusion in Villa's first team and has looked at ease in the unusual position of right-back.
But with Gabriel Agbonlahor ruled out of the fixture, Lambert should opt for a 4-4-2 formation and install the Dutchman on the right side of midfield.
Intelligent and pacey with a wicked delivery, Bacuna will provide much assistance for the two men up front.
CM. Fabian Delph
Fabian Delph has been Villa's outstanding player this term. Villa fans, journalists and TV experts have called for the Bradford-born midfielder to receive an England call-up, and if he continues in this fine form, then it won't be too long before Roy Hodgson is on the other end of the phone.
According to Squawka, Delph has completed an average of 82 percent of his passes and won 70 percent of his duels this season.
The all-action midfielder will, as always, work tirelessly for his side and could be the difference on Saturday.
CM. Ashley Westwood
Ashley Westwood has been a revelation in the centre of Villa's midfield since his move from Crewe in the summer of 2012.
The 23-year-old immediately looked comfortable in the Premier League and played a vital role in keeping Villa up.
Westwood has missed two fixtures through injury this season—wins against Norwich and Man City—but don't read too much into that. When fit, Lambert has selected the youngster and will do so again this weekend.
LM. Aleksandar Tonev
Aleksandar Tonev has slowly been introduced into the Premier League since his summer move from Polish side Lech Poznan. The Bulgarian winger has been given a few minutes at the end of each game and has unsurprisingly failed to make an impact.
Over the last few weeks, however, the Villa boss has allowed the 23-year-old more playing time which he has benefited from. Tonev started Villa's last match and looked bright, despite the defeat.
The tricky winger has a devilish shot on him but, during his first few appearances, tended to opt for a shoot-on-sight tactic. He has since involved more of his team-mates when he's had the ball and has subsequently become more effective.
Villa's most-prized asset is a dead cert to start. The Belgian striker netted 19 times during last season's dismal campaign and picked up where he left off, notching four goals in his first four league games before suffering an injury.
The 22-year-old has failed to add to that tally since his return but is undoubtedly one of the league's top strikers and will get back to scoring ways sooner rather than later.
ST. Andreas Weimann
Andi Weimann has played each and every one of Villa's nine games this season and will surely make it number 10 on Saturday.
The Austrian striker has operated from right-wing for the most of the season and has had relative success in that position. The 22-year-old has scored just once this term, though it was the winner in Villa's 3-2 win over Manchester City, and will partner Benteke up front in a slight change of formation.
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