Preview: Aston Villa vs. West Ham United

Sports Mole previews the Premier League clash between Aston Villa and West Ham in the Midlands, which Hammers striker Andy Carroll will miss through suspension.

West Ham United will make Saturday's Premier League trip to Aston Villa without the suspended Andy Carroll.

The England international forward's appeal to overturn the red card shown to him against Swansea City was turned down by the Football Association this week.

The Hammers are believed to be considering legal action, but in the meantime will have to make do without their £15m record signing, who has only recently returned from a long-term injury layoff.

Villa will have their own talismanic forward available, though, and Christian Benteke is showing signs of rediscovering the form that took him to the top of several European giants' summer shopping lists.

The Belgian powerhouse has scored three goals in his last four matches, helping Villa compensate for the absence of Gabby Agbonlahor, who could return to the fold for the visit of the Hammers.

The Birmingham-born forward faces a late fitness test on the ankle problem that has kept him out of their last two games, and Ron Vlaar is also a doubt after limping off late on in the loss to Everton last weekend.

Paul Lambert may sacrifice Grant Holt to make room for Karim El Ahmadi, if he opts to revert back to 4-3-3. Leandro Bacuna is likely to continue in a more advanced role should Agbonlahor fail to recover.

For the visitors, Carlton Cole and Marco Borriello are in contention to deputise for Carroll in what could be an otherwise unchanged West Ham XI from the one that beat Swansea 2-0 last Saturday.

Transfer deadline-day signing from Napoli, Pablo Armero, is an option to replace George McCartney at left-back. Joe Cole, Joey O'Brien and Mohamed Diame are all unavailable through injury.

Recent form


West Ham: WDLLWL

Possible starting lineups

Villa: Guzan; Baker, Clark, Vlaar, Bertrand; El Ahmadi, Westwood, Delph; Weimann, Bacuna, Benteke

West Ham: Adrian; Demel, Tomkins, Collins, Armero; Jarvis, Noble, Nolan, Taylor, Downing; C. Cole

Sports Mole says: 1-1

Steven Naismith of Everton celebrates after scoring the first goal during the Barclays Premier League match against Aston Villa on February 1, 2014
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Result: Everton edge past Villa
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