Premier League preview: West Ham v Aston Villa

Lowly West Ham welcomes fellow relegation candidates Aston Villa on Saturday, with both sides needing a win to boost their survival hopes.The Hammers succumbed to a 3-0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers last Saturday in the English Premier League, however Avram Grant’s men saw two efforts on goal clash with the woodwork.

The defeat further dented West Ham’s bid to remain in the top flight as they sit in third-bottom on 32 points and having lost their previous two encounters.

Kieron Dyer, who was sent on loan to Ipswich Town last month, has returned to Upton Park to help with the Hammers’ relegation battle after appearing in four Championship matches.

England international Scott Parker, who was shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Year Award, will again be the focal point and talisman for West Ham as they look for inspiration heading into the final six games of the season.

And the Aston Villa game is arguably the most important game for Grant’s troops, given they have tough away clashes with Chelsea and Manchester City to follow.

Grant has stated that 41 points would be enough for his side to avoid the drop.

Aston Villa, like their opponents, are also in the thick of the relegation dog fight having contrived to struggle this season following last season’s impressive sixth-place finish on the table.

French manager Gerard Houllier has had a tough time resonating with the Villa players, since his appointment in mid-season, but they nonetheless will be buoyed by their triumph over Newcastle last week.

Welsh international John Collins scored the solitary goal that helped move the Midlands outfit into 14th spot on the table.

Captain Stiliyan Petrov, whose contributions have been limited in recent weeks, is fighting to regain his starting spot with Nigel Reo-Coker.

Victory on Saturday is also a must for the Villans who will encounter several tricky matches heading season’s end.