West Ham United’s chances of beating Aston Villa on Monday night have been given a big boost.
The Hammers have made their best start to a Premier League season for five years.
And they could go as high as fifth – depending on other results – if they make it three wins on the bounce with victory over Villa.
Big carrot dangling for West Ham as Villa come to town
West Ham secured back-to-back 1-0 victories against Fulham and Sheffield United either side of the international break.
David Moyes would undoubtedly take the same again against a Villa who are much improved this season.
And his side’s chances have been seriously boosted by issues surrounding the Villains’s two key players.
According to The Express and Star, on loan playmaker Ross Barkley will miss the game against West Ham at the London Stadium after injuring his hamstring in the defeat to Brighton at the weekend.
Hammers chances boosted by issues surrounding two key Villa stars
Barkley picked up the injury in the first minute of the 2-1 loss to Brighton and The Express and Star say he will be out for a minimum of two weeks.
Meanwhile Villa’s main man, captain Jack Grealish, has hit the headlines again for all the wrong reasons.
Grealish will go before the courts next month after he pleaded guilty to two charges over driving offences.
Grealish has starred for England in recent weeks alongside West Ham’s current matchday skipper Declan Rice.
The Villa hero is no stranger to controversy in his young career so far.
But he is facing new scrutiny after admitting to two charges of careless driving, including one offence in connection with a crash during March’s coronavirus lockdown; he also pleaded guilty to a second offence in October (Sky Sports and Sky News).
Antonio return should make it triple boost for West Ham
Whether the latest publicity surrounding Grealish will affect his performances on the pitch remains to be seen.
But without Barkley alongside him, West Ham will feel more confident they can focus their efforts on stopping Grealish.
Villa have other good players of course. Particularly former West Ham target Ollie Watkins, who has made a superb start to life as a Premier League striker.
In another boost for West Ham, Moyes is expected to welcome star striker Michail Antonio back into the fold after he missed the last three games through injury.
Barring any issues that crop up during this week’s training, the only other doubt West Ham have is the injured Ryan Fredericks.
West Ham take on Villa in the Monday Night Football on Sky Sports.