Aston Villa will be hugely encouraged by two things everyone noticed about West Ham in the European win on Thursday night.

West Ham recorded a 2-0 win at AEK Larnaca in the Europa Conference League on Thursday night to put one foot in the quarter-finals.

One eye was already on this Sunday’s huge Premier League match against Aston Villa as West Ham fight for survival.

While West Ham were far from dazzling in Cyprus, it was a solid, professional performance.

And there were a number of positives to build on ahead of what is a huge match against Villa at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

West Ham know they need to pick up at least five wins from their remaining 13 league games to have a chance of staying up.

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So Aston Villa at home is a game the Hammers must be looking to win.

Pundits and supporters have raised concerns that the European games could become an unwelcome distraction or take their toll on West Ham at a crucial stage of the season.

And while there were several positives in Cyprus, there were also a couple of standout concerns too.

Aston Villa will be hugely encouraged by two things everyone noticed about West Ham in the European win.

There has been a lot of focus on Alphonse Areola since he has come into the side for injured number one Lukasz Fabianski.

After conceding seven goals in the two games prior to Larnaca, that is to be expected. Areola could not do too much to prevent most of those goals it has to be said.

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Aston Villa will be hugely encouraged by two things everyone noticed about West Ham in European win

But one thing that has been noted is how suspect he is looking on corners into the six-yard box. The 6ft 5in Frenchman and Nayef Aguerd have found themselves getting in one another’s way on several occasions in the last few games.

In fact it led to Man United’s equaliser in that FA Cup defeat at Old Trafford. And in Cyprus Larnaca clearly targeted that as a potential weakness as they had an astonishing 14 corners.

Areola and Aguerd were involved in two or three mix-ups again and West Ham were lucky not to concede from as a result.

Unai Emery and Aston Villa will undoubtedly target that as a potential weakness so David Moyes, Areola and the defenders must be on that to nip it in the bud.

It just comes from Areola’s lack of games and his different style to Fabianski rather than necessarily being weak on crosses. After all he towers above most players so physicality is not an issue at all.

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The other thing Aston Villa will be encouraged by, which concerned West Ham fans watching the game, was the very obvious fatigue on show in the second half.

Moyes blamed last weekend’s 4-0 defeat to Brighton on fatigue from West Ham’s exertions in the cup game at Man United.

And his players were noticeably leggy, tired and lethargic in that second half at the AEK Arena. That is understandable after a five-hour flight and dramatic change in temperature and playing conditions.

But add in the 2,500 mile, five-hour return journey and the fact West Ham only have 48 hours to recover and it does not bode well. The good thing is that Moyes did make seven changes for the match. But a host of players who started against Larnaca will also be starting against Villa.

West Ham will need to be on their guard against a Villa side looking to make a fast start and watch out for them putting the ball right on Areola from corners and set pieces too.


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