Aston Villa and West Ham United square off on Sunday afternoon having both endured disappointing starts to the new Premier League campaign.
At a time when Villa sit 13th in the standings after collecting three points from as many games, West Ham are bottom having suffered three defeats in succession.
When Steven Gerrard arrived at Aston Villa last November, there was the expectation that he would hold the position for as long as he wants it with club officials recognising that they had pulled off a coup in tempting him away from Rangers.
However, some of the club’s supporters remain unconvinced, and their feelings towards the Englishman did not improve after witnessing Villa lose out 3-1 at Crystal Palace.
Although the turning point of the contest came in controversial circumstances when Palace earned a highly-debatable penalty for handball, the level of performance remains below what was anticipated when the Liverpool legend returned South of the border.
Beating Bolton Wanderers in the EFL Cup on Tuesday evening felt imperative and Villa achieved that goal with a comeback 4-1 triumph at the home of the League One outfit.
Nevertheless, Gerrard heads into this fixture with Villa winning just three of their last 14 fixtures in the Premier League, a rate which must improve if the powers-that-be are going to avoid having to make a decision regarding Gerrard’s future.
David Moyes has brought himself more time in the opposite dugout with West Ham having posted successive top-seven finishes and making an impression on the continent.
However, like with Villa, the level of investment has upped the stakes, and Moyes is aware that he must find a path back into the top half of the standings as soon as possible.
On the flip side to three successive Premier League defeats, the last of which came at home to Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend, the Hammers were able to earn a spot in the group stages of the Europa Conference League courtesy of a 6-1 aggregate win over Viborg FF.
New arrival Gianluca Scamacca netted a goal in each of the two legs against the Danish side and will expect to be given a chance in England’s top flight sooner rather than later.
West Ham also have just three Premier League wins to their name from their most recent 14 outings, something which will not be lost on Moyes as he attempts to get the team back on track.
Aston Villa Premier League form:
Aston Villa form (all competitions):
West Ham United Premier League form:
West Ham United form (all competitions):
We say: Aston Villa 1-2 West Ham United
Despite this being just the fourth Premier League game of the season, the stakes feel high with both managers desperately needing a win. Villa should make plenty of the running, but we feel that West Ham will be able to take advantage of the weaknesses in the home side’s defence.