West Ham V Aston Villa at Upton Park : Match Preview

18 August 2012 07:36
Allardyce not taking Villa match lightly West Ham's Sam Allardyce is hopeful of getting Premier League life off to a winning start but insists his side will not take Aston Villa for granted.

The Hammers secured their return to the top flight via the play-offs last season, bouncing back at the first attempt after relegation under Avram Grant.

First up for the east Londoners are Villa and, while quietly confident of three points, Allardyce rejected the notion that the fixture is an easy one. "Everybody thought that Cardiff City at home was a comfortable start last season and we got beat 1-0 in the last minute," he said. "I don't think there is any kind of comfortable start in the Premier League.

"I think there is a possibility that we can get off to a good start if we give a good performance. "What we are looking for a good performance by our players and that might give us a chance to win the first game here at Upton Park at the start of a new Premier League season.

"I think we all need to be a little apprehensive, certainly myself because it doesn't matter how good or bad I think we are, I won't really know until we play Barclays Premier League games." Jack Collison will miss the opener after aggravating an existing knee injury towards the end of last season, which has seen him miss pre-season.

Fellow Wales international James Collins is fit to face his former club after a groin injury, but manager Allardyce revealed his summer signings from overseas, Alou Diarra and Modibo Maiga, will not start. Paul Lambert admits Aston Villa's history "raises the bar" in terms of what is expected from his first season in charge.

The former Norwich boss is striving to bring the good times back to Villa after two seasons of underachievement under Gerard Houllier and Alex McLeish. Lambert has been welcomed by Villa fans with open arms after the animosity shown towards former Birmingham boss McLeish.

But he has urged Villa supporters to stick with the team through the ups and downs that will lie ahead during the next nine months. Lambert said: "The history of Villa, that raises the bar because of that side of things and the expectancy level.

"When you go to any club it's hard. It's not an easy job, football management, and Norwich was tough to turn around. "But Villa is a huge club and I can't wait for the season to start now, the atmosphere, the adrenalin rush, and trying to win as many games as we can. "We have to hit the ground running and that is what we will try and do.

You have to be ready. There is no turning back now." Villa summer signing, Brett Holman, has shaken off a knee problem and the midfielder is included in the squad for the trip to Upton Park.

 Other newcomers, central defender Ron Vlaar, right-back Matthew Lowton and midfielder Karim El Ahmadi, are also in contention. Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor (knee), defender Richard Dunne (groin) and winger Marc Albrighton (foot) are still sidelined.

West Ham V Aston Villa - view commentary, squad, and statictics of the game live.

Source: PA