West Ham United travel to Aston Villa on Monday night for a clash of the claret and blues.

West Ham have been winning admirers this season with their impressive performances since losing 5-0 on the opening day to Manchester City.

Depending on results elsewhere, the Hammers can propel themselves into the top four of the fledgling table with a third consecutive Premier League victory.

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Hammers tipped for top six tilt

Many pundits and fans have tipped West Ham to compete for a place in what is regarded as a wide open top six this season.

Aston Villa will provide a stern test of those credentials having already proved a more than capable side so far.

West Ham comfortably beat Norwich 2-0 last time out in a game they should have won by a bigger margin.

They say never change a winning team. And Pellegrini will be loathe to tinker given the recent performances.

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Pellegrini facing one late call?

However he may have to make one big late call on star player Manuel Lanzini.

The playmaker has been away on international duty with Argentina, earning a fifth cap in a 4-0 win over Mexico.

Lanzini was not injured in the game.


But he will not arrive back in the UK until tonight (Friday).

It gives the little jewel just less than 72 hours to recover. That should suffice.

But Pellegrini will be all too aware of the risks involved. Lanzini spent nearly a year out with a serious knee injury.

Photo by Arfa Griffiths West Ham United FC via Getty Images

Fornals could step in if West Ham don’t risk Lanzini

Putting too much strain on the 26-year-old’s body by playing and travelling long distance in such close proximity is probably best avoided.

So the West Ham boss faces a dilemma whether to keep Lanzini on the bench, or rest him altogether for this one.

Exciting young star Pablo Fornals would be Lanzini’s most likely replacement. But it is not ideal given Lanzini has been in superb form so far.

That would be the only change Pellegrini would make from the team that beat Norwich.

West Ham predicted XI to face Aston Villa:

Fabianski, Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Noble, Rice, Anderson, Lanzini/Fornals, Yarmolenko, Haller.

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