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Aston Villa Out to do Double Over West Ham

Aston Villa did their hopes of avoiding relegation a massive boost with a win over Newcastle last time out and now they travel to fellow strugglers West Ham.

The 1-0 win at Villa Park, courtesy of a James Collins header, helped Villa create a five-point gap between them and the relegation zone with six matches remaining, but defeat to the Hammers mean Saturday's hosts could close to within two points of them.

Two more wins are likely to ensure Villa preserve their top flight status and they are looking to win consecutive games for only the second time all season.

The travelling fans could take some heart from the statistic that Villa have lost only once in nine games against West Ham in recent years, and bookmakers have them at 9/4 to win on Saturday.

Seven of the last 10 matches at Upton Park between the sides have been drawn but Villa, who won the reverse fixture 3-0 back on the opening day of the season, will be hoping their strong roster of attacking players should be too much for a West Ham side that has leaked goals consistently all season.

Gerard Houllier, who has struggled with injuries all season, is blessed with an injury-free squad to choose from so could stick with the same XI who carved out the win against Newcastle last time out.

Again, all eyes will on be the likes of Darren Bent and Ashley Young to score the goals for Villa, and a goal for Bent would take him level with Young as the side's leading Premier League goal scorer – despite the fact he only arrived in January.

Houllier has come under massive criticism from Villa fans, and also some players, during his time at the club, but his assistant Gary McAllister has stated this week he is confident the French boss can lead Villa to safety with games to spare.

"Gerard is meticulous on preparation and what he does to get knowledge of the opposition - for every game," the Scot stated,

"He is ultra-professional, very thorough, and probably the hardest worker I have met."

The Hammers come into this game sitting 17th in the Premier League and, worryingly for fans, on a run of three games without a win. Bookmakers have the home side at 13/8 to win this match.

Defender Jack Collison is set to face a fitness test as he looks to return after 13 months of injury hell, while Keiron Dyer could be in contention after returning from a loan spell at Championship side Ipswich Town.

It is reaching that time of the season where all the teams in the wrong half of the table are desperate for wins and, with only seven points separating 20th and 10th, the league is looking tighter than ever.

A win for Villa could lift them to 12th in the table and put them one massive step closer to preserving their future, but West Ham are an unpredictable side and know they need to win at home if they are to maintain any chance of staying safe themselves.


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