Date: 26th December 2015 at 1:49pm
Written by:

Being bottom of the league at Christmas used to mean there was no way back, that you were doomed to relegation.

Now, since West Brom lifted that particular curse 10 years ago, it just means you’re in deep trouble, but though Aston Villa fans can take heart from the fact that Sunderland and Leicester have survived in the last two seasons, you’d be hard pressed to find a supporter who believes their team can avoid the drop.

Manager Remi Garde says his team need to win 10 of their last 21 games to secure Premier League status for another season, a tall order given they haven’t won since the opening day, but will fancy their chances on Boxing Day against a West Ham side struggling for form and goals.

In fact the next 10 days could go some way to restoring belief around Villa Park, with a trip to Norwich and then a home game against fellow strugglers Sunderland following this one – two wins from these games would paint a rosier picture in their fight for survival.

But you can expect a scrappy affair against West Ham, a side who have drawn five of their last six games, the last three of which have been goalless.

The Hammers have been hit hard by the absence of key players, especially Dmitri Payet, and will be desperate to add to their squad in January, but the amount of funds available to Slaven Bilic are expected to be limited.

In the meantime, they have no new injury concerns, but no players are expected to return either, with the game coming just too soon for Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll.

There may be better news for Villa, with Micah Richards pushing hard to be fit in time after missing the last three games with a knee injury.

Probable Villa team: Guzan, Hutton, Okore, Lescott, Bacuna, Veretout, Sanchez, Gueye, Sinclair, Gestede, J Ayew