Thank God it’s back to proper footy and I can’t wait for this one, although I am nervous about it.
I don’t know what it is, but suspect it’s simply down to the fact that many other fans have missed Villa Park as a venue, but there seems to have been a lot of love for the grand old stadium in the papers over the last couple of days.
Phil Neville says it’s his favourite away ground anywhere and others, including one of the West Ham players, have talked about the atmosphere and the fans.
Which is surprising if you consider many of us fans have complained about the lack of atmosphere over the last few years, but totally justified if there’s some entertaining footy on display.
Quite simply, play decent footy and the support is awesome.
And the fans will turn up too.
I was wondering yesterday,what sort of crowd we might get tonight, given that the game is on Sky. So I had a mooch on the ticket selector on the OS to check availability.
It’s a total sellout from what I could see, apart from a solitary seat in A8.
Impressive, but imagine if we were doing really well in the league. You can see why our owners want to increase capacity and I’ve no doubt we will if we continue to progress.
Which brings us to tonight’s game, where while I’m nowhere near worrying just yet, it would be nice to pick up the points.
Squad news first and from what I’m seeing Trezuguet is of course suspended after his double yellow last time out.
Kodjia has had surgery to repair a fractured cheekbone and will be out for three weeks, which is incredibly bad luck, given his previous injury just beforehand or stinks to high heaven. Take your choice.
Chester isn’t ready, but Matt Targett might be available.
As for West Ham, they are in pretty good shape apart from Michail Antonio (hamstring) and Winston Reid (knee).
I can’t say I’ve seen much of West Ham, but the main point for me is that if they win tonight, they will go second. Of course it’s very early days and it doesn’t mean much.
But it’s a good indicator of how they’ve started the season.
Whereas we’ve done ok, but just haven’t got the points our game has justified overall.
Which for me is all that the Premier league is about. It’s even more important to get results now than it was last season, as daft as that might sound.
After all, we’ve often seen examples of teams that “are too good to go down”, yet they still have.
My point is, that playing well on it’s own, isn’t good enough.
You need something extra; some sort of edge that just digs out the win.
So what does that leave me thinking about tonight?
Dean Smith will retain his 4-3-3 and will probably bring El Ghazi back in for Trezuguet. I don’t see much else changing, as we all know the team needs more time to gel.
I just wonder if we’ll have enough to get the points?
I’m going for a 1-0 win, but the truth is it’s coming from the heart.
West Ham are a fairly well established mid-table side now, after all and my usual “expect the worst and anything else is a bonus” thinking applies.