How Villa could line up vs West Ham: Two key potential Emery changes

Aston Villa face a difficult trip to West Ham on Sunday afternoon as we go in search of a third consecutive clean sheet and three points.

Wins over Everton and Crystal Palace have cemented our spot in 11th place in the Premier League table, as Unai Emery and the players continue to push to try and break into the top half of the standings.

READ MORE: Why Emery faces big challenge to fill key Villa void after setback

While a win this weekend could be enough to finally do that depending on a result elsewhere, our focus will no doubt be solely on West Ham and getting the better of David Moyes’ side given they are desperate for points to move away from the relegation zone.

Although it’s been a disappointing year for the Hammers so far, they have plenty of quality in their squad and coupled with our poor run against them in recent times, it promises to be a tricky assignment and we’ll have to be much better than we were last time out against Palace.

Kamara void decision, Digne over Moreno?

For the most part, the Villa line-up is expected to stay the same with Emiliano Martinez between the posts, while Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings will likely continue ahead of him in defence.

There could be one change in that department though, as with Emery alternating between Lucas Digne and Alex Moreno, he may lean towards Digne’s experience and defensive characteristics for this one as we look to stay compact and defensively solid at the back on the road.

The Frenchman was given the nod in our last two away games, and so this could be another one where he gets a chance to establish himself in the starting XI, albeit Moreno is a more dynamic option and needs a run of games to continue to adapt too.

Villa will be forced into at least one change in midfield following the injury blow suffered by Boubacar Kamara, with Emery facing an important decision as to who comes in for him.

Based on the latest training photos published by the club, there was no sign of Leander Dendoncker being amongst the group, and after he missed out due to personal reasons last weekend, it remains to be seen if he’s back in contention or not.

Given his apparent absence though, that potentially limits Emery to two options, with either Calum Chambers coming in to fill the Kamara role, as he did after coming on against Palace, or shifting John McGinn into a more central position and using one of Emiliano Buendia or Leon Bailey on the right side.

It would be a shame to limit McGinn again in a deeper midfield role just as he is starting to find a real rhythm and threat on the right flank where he is given more license to get forward, but the combative midfield ace is arguably the safest option to play in such a crucial role for us.

With his tenacity combined with technical quality and mobility, he has the attributes that make him capable of playing a similar role to Kamara, and that could be the sensible choice this weekend.

Douglas Luiz and Jacob Ramsey will arguably complete the midfield, while Ollie Watkins will undoubtedly continue to lead the line for Villa. In turn, it remains to be seen whether it’s Bailey or Buendia who plays up in support of him, with Jhon Duran pushing to be more involved while we await an update on Philippe Coutinho’s injury status.

Predicted Aston Villa XI vs West Ham: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; Buendia, McGinn, Luiz, J. Ramsey; Bailey, Watkins.

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