Saturday, August 18, 2012
TV: Highlights BBC1 Match Of The Day
West Ham (Possible, 4-2-2): Jaaskelainen; Demel, Reid, Collins,
McCartney; Diame, Nolan, Noble, O'Neil; Vaz Te, Cole.
Out: Collison (knee), Diarra, Maiga (match fitness).
Villa (Possible, 4-4-2): Given; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Lichaj; N'Zogbia,
El Ahmadi, Ireland, Holman; Weimann, Bent.
Out: Agbonlahor (knee), Albrighton (broken toe), Dunne (groin), Petrov (leukaemia).
Referee: Mike Dean. Matches (last season): 30, Red 4, Yellow 109.
Jack Collison will miss West Ham's Premier League return but James Collins will be fit to face his former club.
The 23-year-old Collison played a key part in West Ham's promotion via the play-offs but aggravated an existing knee injury in the process, which has seen him miss pre-season.
Fellow Wales international Collins is fit again after a groin injury, while manager Sam Allardyce confirmed that summer signings Alou Diarra and Modibo Maiga will not start.
Aston Villa summer signing Brett Holman has shaken off a knee problem and the midfielder is included in the squad under new manager Paul Lambert.
Other newcomers, central defender Ron Vlaar, right-back Matthew Lowton and midfielder Karim El Ahmadi, are also in contention to play at Upton Park.
However, striker Gabriel Agbonlahor, defender Richard Dunne and winger Marc Albrighton are still sidelined.
Sam Allardyce has a grandiose vision of West Ham becoming as big as Arsenal if they can secure a new home at the Olympic Stadium.
First task, though, is to launch the campaign to establish the newly-promoted East End club in the Premier League by overcoming Aston Villa at Upton Park.
It's also the start of a fresh era for Villa, under new manager Paul Lambert.
Villa finished just two points above the relegation zone last season and supporters are right to expect a considerable improvement this term.
Betting: Home 13-10, Away 15-8, Draw 21-10.
Stat of the game: West Ham lost just once in their final 21 games of last season.
Ben Findon's prediction: West Ham United 1 Aston Villa 1.