Dean Smith is delighted with Aston Villa’s performance so far this season, but acknowledges that there is a long way to go before hosting West Ham.
Villa was in a relegation battle last season but is heading into this week’s games in ninth place, ahead of Arsenal and just one point behind Tottenham and Chelsea.
Wednesday’s opponents West Ham, also fighters in 2019-20, have been even more impressive, fifth despite losing to Liverpool on Sunday.
Villa won the weekend, beating Southampton, and Smith praised his team’s work ethic.
“It’s not just about the centrals and the goalkeeper,” he said.
“Look at the pace of work from the whole team from Jack Grealish, Ollie Watkins and Ross Barkley. It’s a real team effort right now.”
Smith added: “It’s been a really nice change from blocking to where we are now.
“We have learned many lessons, but at the moment we are only halfway there.”
West Ham’s Moyes hopes the visitors can be competitive against Villa as they have fallen short at home to Liverpool.
“I thought we competed as best we could, but I don’t think we played as well as we could,” he said.
“They are a really good team and they were too strong for us.
“Liverpool is not a team that we are challenging. We want to challenge in individual matches, but their consistency throughout the season will be much higher, as we have seen throughout the year.”
PLAYERS TO SEE
Aston Villa – Bertrand Traore
All eyes are on Jack Grealish every time Villa plays, but Traore is quietly starring for Smith’s side. He has scored in each of his last two Premier League appearances at Villa Park. The last Villa player to score in three straight at home in the top flight was Darren Bent in November 2011.
West Ham – Craig Dawson
Center-back Dawson got his chance at West Ham’s defense in late December and Sunday’s game against Liverpool, his sixth league appearance, was his first loss. He has also scored twice, including one goal in that match, meaning he has 41 league goals since the start of the 2009-10 season, more than any other defender in England’s four major divisions.
OPTA KEY FACTS
– Aston Villa have won just one of their last nine Premier League meetings with West Ham (D5 L3), winning 1-0 at Villa Park in May 2015.
– West Ham are looking to secure their first league double over Aston Villa since 2005-06. However, the Hammers have won just one of their last 10 Premier League visits to Villa Park (D4 L5): 2-0 in February 2014.
– Following a three-game losing streak at home in the league in which they conceded a total of nine goals, Aston Villa have kept a clean sheet in each of their last three at Villa Park. The last time they kept four clean sheets in a row at home in the Premier League in October 2001.
– West Ham are looking to win three consecutive away Premier League games for the first time since December 2018.The Hammers have already won more away league games this season (five) than they did in all of 2019-20 (four ).
– Moyes is undefeated in his last nine Premier League games against Villa (four wins and five draws), although he has only recorded a league double once before, with Manchester United in 2013-14.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.