After picking up all three points in a controversy-filled Premier League encounter against Southampton last weekend, Aston Villa will be looking to make it back-to-back wins when they host West Ham United on Wednesday night.
Dean Smith’s side are still very much in the hunt for a European place for next season, and face another one of the top-flight’s surprise packages this campaign in the Hammers.
David Moyes’ men couldn’t avoid defeat against reigning champions Liverpool last time out, but they have been in superb form in recent weeks, rattling off six wins in a row in all competition prior to the defeat to Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Smith is unlikely to ring the changes against the Hammers, but there could be one or two key decisions that the boss makes, and below is a look at how Villa might line up tonight.
The back-four should remain unchanged too, with Matt Targett, in particular, showcasing why he’s quickly become Smith’s unsung hero in their Premier League charge this season.
The Villa boss did confirm a setback to Kourtney Hause in the build-up to the game, so he’ll be hoping the likes of Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa can stay injury-free over these coming weeks.
In midfield, new signing Morgan Sanson is pushing for his full debut after joining from Ligue 1 giants Marseille, and Smith seemed to hint that the Frenchman is in his plans to get his first start against the Hammers tonight.
Asked if he could make his debut, Smith said in his pre-match press conference: “He could do. But he’s only trained three days so far and only came in last Wednesday and was on the bench at Southampton. He’s getting used to what we want and what we require but he’s looked good in training so far.”
The 26-year-old’s availability gives Smith a dilemma about how he should integrate him, but if he does start, John McGinn could be the man to drop out, with the Frenchman joined in the middle of the park by Douglas Luiz.
Further forward, the £40k-a-week earning Anwar El Ghazi is waiting in the wings to make his return to the starting line-up after being dropped to the bench in place of Bertrand Traore for the past couple of weeks.
Other than that, Smith will be reluctant to make changes after seeing his side get back to winning ways against Southampton.
Predicted XI: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, Sanson; El Ghazi, Barkley, Grealish; Watkins.