West Ham United vs Aston Villa preview and tips: Unai Emery looking to add to Moyes' woes
West Ham returned to winning ways on Thursday when they dispatched Cypriot side AEK Larnaca 2-0 in the first leg of their Europa Conference League last-16 tie.
David Moyes would likely trade that for three points in the Premier League, with his side facing a serious battle for survival that seemed highly unlikely back in August.
Aston Villa have turned a corner under the stewardship of manager, Unai Emery, who has arrived at Villa Park after spells of varied success at Sevilla, PSG, Arsenal and Villarreal.
Having won the Europa League three times with Sevilla and then again with Villarreal last season, Emery is an expert in European competition and he will be fully aware how difficult a Thursday-Sunday schedule can be for any club.
Moyes opted to play a very strong team in Cyprus, which is likely to lead to reduced energy and intensity - something that Emery will undoubtedly seek to exploit.
Whilst there is plenty of confidence that Villa could extend their winning run, they are handily priced on a +0.25 Asian Handicap which gives a solid position as it provides a return either an away win or a draw.
Back-to-back wins over Everton and Crystal Palace have seen the Villans steer clear of any relegation threat and they are now firmly looking upwards. Villa have won four of their last five away games, the only exception being a 3-1 loss to champions Manchester City. With the Hammers desperate for a win, Sunday's opponents would potentially be perfect if recent history were anything to go by - Villa have failed to win any of the last nine meetings, with West Ham winning all of the last five.
David Moyes has injury woes, with Vladimir Coufal still unavailable whilst first-choice goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski fractured his eye socket recently in a freak incident against Nottingham Forest.
Forward Michail Antonio's involvement is likely a game-day decision due to a calf injury incurred during their European win this week, where he rediscovered his scoring touch with a timely brace. All three players mentioned have been key to West Ham's recent success, and their experience and quality will be a huge loss. Aston Villa had some good news this week with Diego Carlos finally returning to training, although this encounter will come slightly too early for the Brazilian defender. Boubacar Kamara and Philippe Coutinho will also miss out, whilst Leander Dendoncker may return to the squad. Veteran forward Danny Ings is a renowned 'fox in the box' and he swapped Villa Park for London Stadium back in January. A striker with a point to prove is always dangerous, especially one with the finishing ability that Ings possesses. Should Antonio be unavailable after all, Ings will likely start and in his final start for Villa he scored twice against Brighton, so could he have a say against his former employers?
Paul Bathurst provides football tips as Soccer Sharp on the Tipstrr platform
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