Written by : @ConorCulver

Villa away and a chance to go third – after a 5-0 home drubbing in Week One, who would have thought it? Monday night’s game provides us with an excellent chance to go third and also a chance to put some of last season’s demons to bed. Some of our worst results last season came when we had the chance to go seventh so Monday hopefully will be the turning over of a new leaf.

There are a couple of matchups worth focussing on. First is Haller against Tyrone Mings. Mings provides Haller with a taste of his own medicine; he’s powerful and has plenty of Premier League experience against some of the world’s best strikers. If Haller can continue his fine goalscoring form, then given the other matchups where our wingers should come out on top of their full backs, he should be given the service if he can shake free of Mings.

The more important matchup is Rice against Grealish. Grealish has shown the talent he has in the first few games and is surely due an England call up sooner rather than later but this is the type of game where Rice can really show his ability. Fans can expect the game to be open with both teams wanting to attack often. If Rice can stay disciplined and stop Grealish from running at the defence then West Ham stand a really good chance of winning. Stopping Grealish is key as it then takes away a lot of creation on Villa’s behalf.

As mentioned above it is vital that West Ham improve their consistency and win these kinds of games against opposition they should be beating. But they must not underestimate Villa who showed how well they can play in their opening game against Spurs. Even though they lost, they showed a clear ability to play good attacking football and cause some of the league’s better teams problems. This requires the defensive players to be extremely wary of Villa’s threats, if Fredericks and Masuaku go forward Rice and Noble may wish to sit to prevent Villa’s dangerous counter-attack. This is why Rice is so key, on paper it is the type of game where he excels, it should be open but he shouldn’t be overrun.

All things considered there is a different atmosphere around West Ham this year and this will be reflected in our results. We are playing some really good football going forward so far so based on that I will predict a 1-3 win and an early Champions League spot.