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Dec 26, 2015 at 3pm UK at Villa Park
Aston Villa
1-1
West HamWest Ham United
Ayew (62' pen.)
FT(HT: 0-1)
Cresswell (45')

Preview: Aston Villa vs. West Ham United

Sports Mole peers ahead to the Boxing Day Premier League match between two sides trying to end lengthy winless streaks, Aston Villa and West Ham United.

When will Aston Villa end their club-record winless run in the Premier League? Their next chance to do so comes on Boxing Day when West Ham United visit Villa Park.

The Hammers are themselves going through a sticky patch having not won in two months.


Villa

Jordan Ayew celebrates scoring Aston Villa's equaliser at Newcastle United on December 19, 2015© Getty Images

Bottom at Christmas and a long way from safety - it is not going to be a very happy day tomorrow for Aston Villa supporters.

The Birmingham-based outfit have not won in the Premier League since the opening day of the season, a run that was extended to 16 matches with a 1-1 draw at Newcastle United last Saturday evening.

Jordan Ayew's curled equaliser was perhaps the pick of matchday 16's goals, and although Villa did what Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur could not in December by stopping the Magpies from winning, they fell further from safety.

Wins for Bournemouth, Chelsea and Norwich City mean that there is now a 10-point gap to 17th-placed Newcastle and any escape this season from Remi Garde's side would be a miracle.

They are bottom of the top flight at Christmas for the third time in their history and on both of the previous occasions in 1935-36 and 1958-59 they went on to be relegated.

However, the team that were bottom of the league at Christmas the last two seasons has gone on to stay up (Leicester City in 2014-15 and Sunderland in 2013-14), and look where Leicester are now.

Does a Boxing Day fixture bring about a good omen to give Villans something to cling to? Nope. The club have won just one of their last 14 Premier League games played the day after Christmas and not scored in the last four.

The January transfer window is a little over a week away now and Villa have been linked with plenty of names in the last few weeks. Among them are Chelsea's Loic Remy and Gokhan Inler of Leicester, but there could also be departures and club servant Gabriel Agbonlahor could be among them.

Recent form: DLLDLD


West Ham

Swansea's Jack Cork and West Ham's Michail Antonio tussle on December 20, 2015© AFP

Most West Ham fans would have gladly accepted eighth place at Christmas at the start of the season, but Slaven Bilic's men come into this match on a stale run of form.

They have won none of their last seven and the last three have all finished 0-0; the first time they have been involved in three successive goalless draws in the league.

Last weekend they travelled to another bottom-three side in Swansea City and largely frustrated the hosts, who had over 70% possession at the Liberty Stadium. There was one contentious moment when James Collins appeared to block a goalbound shot with his hand in the area, but it was incorrectly deemed that it had hit his head.

Speaking of Collins, West Ham announced today that the Welshman had put pen to paper on a new two-year contract extension with the club.

There was also news of a departure, with Matt Jarvis agreeing a permanent move to Norwich City when the transfer window opens next month. The winger has been on loan at the Canaries this term.

West Ham's struggles of late coincide with some key injuries, but Bilic revealed this week that star playmaker Dimitri Payet could return a month early against Liverpool next week from an ankle ligament injury that has kept him out since the start of November.

Recent form: DLDDDD


Team News

Andy Carroll of West Ham in action during the Capital One Cup Third Round match between Leicester City and West Ham United at The King Power Stadium on September 22, 2015 in Leicester, England. © Getty Images

West Ham might be able to welcome back Andy Carroll in two days' time, but if he is not fully fit then Nikica Jelavic, who has scored in three of his four Premier League starts against Villa, could continue in attack.

Manuel Lanzini is close to a return, but Saturday's game might come too quickly, while Payet, as mentioned, could make a surprise comeback early in the New Year.

Victor Moses, Winston Reid and Diafra Sakho remain sidelined for the visitors.

As for Villa, the hosts' captain Micah Richards is likely to miss a fourth straight game with a knee injury, so Jores Okore and Joleon Lescott should remain in central defence.

Garde has a choice to make up front. Ayew should keep his place after his stunning equaliser at St James', but both Scott Sinclair and Rudy Gestede could partner him in attack.

Villa possible starting lineup:
Guzan; Hutton, Okore, Lescott, Bacuna; Veretout, Westwood, Sanchez, Gueye; Sinclair, Ayew

West Ham possible starting lineup:
Adrian; Tomkins, Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Noble, Song, Kouyate; Antonio, Zarate; Jelavic


Head To Head

There have been just three goals in the last four meetings between these two, with Tom Cleverley's winner for Villa in March the only goal in either match last season.

West Ham have won just one of their last eight Premier League games at Villa Park and failed to score in five of those.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Aston Villa 0-1 West Ham

West Ham frustrated a Swansea side in desperate need of a win last week and they might do the same here. Villa won't keep the ball as well as the Swans and that might be enough for the visitors to end their own winless run.



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Slaven Bilic manager of West Ham United gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Stoke City at the Boleyn Ground on December 12, 2015
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· Team GB have dominated the men's coxless fours in recent Olympics, winning on each of the last five occasions, but this year they face some stiff competition. They are one of four rowing medal contenders for Great Britain today (2.10am)

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