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Nic Ladds 19th Dec 2008 - 18:39

Gabby and Ash can make it a merry Christmas for Martin

Sought after duo Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young are capable of running riot at Upton park on Saturday as their recent goal-scoring exploits make respective odds of 6/1 and 8/1 about them scoring first goal look cracking value.

Last weeks' 4-2 victory over Bolton was an attacking master-class from two young players at the top of their game.

Martin O'Neill has made no secret of his admiration for the England starlets and with John Carew still out injured Agbonlahor and Young will be the focal points of Villa's attacks.

Gianfranco Zola has so far failed to transfer his brilliant playing skills into management as West Ham find themselves on a run of one win in eleven Premier League matches. The Hammers are 2/1 to turn their fortunes around while Villa are 11/8 to add to the growing list of woes at Upton Park.

The Hammers have done well to tighten up at the back recently but it is going forward that there appears to be problems. Their misfiring players have only notched four in the Hammers last ten games which is a dismal record.

Craig Bellamy may finally be finding his scoring boots again though as he bagged the first goal of the game against Chelsea last week and is 6/1 for a repeat.

The West Ham defence are going to have a lot on their plate dealing with rampant Villa. The 0-0 draw with Newcastle was the first time the Villans haven't scored away against a lower-half team in 20 matches, A run stretching all the way back to September 2006.

For those who fancy a tighter game it is interesting to note that seven of the last eight games at Upton Park between these two sides have ended in a draw which is available at 9/4.

There should be goals in this game with 10/11 about over two match goals immensely appealing.

Whilst Villa have looked brilliant going forward they are susceptible to conceding soft goals at the back and Martin Laursen and co will have to make sure they concentrate for the full 90 minutes.

Any lapse and West Ham will be all over them and despite their poor goal-scoring record you can see The Hammers snatching a goal or two. Villa to win 3-1 at 20/1 and 3-2 at 25/1 both look plausible score lines.

Villa are prolific goal-scorers away from home but do concede careless goals but a Villa victory looks the most likely outcome.

Ashley Young's form has caught the eye of everyone not least England coach Fabio Capello and at 11/4 looks a cracking bet to score anytime.

West Ham's main goal threat could come from set-pieces which makes 12/1 about Matthew Upson scoring anytime a possible as the big defender has come close on numerous occasions from set-plays.

It remains to be seen whether Villa can keep up this excellent form and sustain their intrusion into the top four of the Premier League. Martin O'Neill has his boys playing well it would be foolish to oppose Villa until their form shows signs of waning.

Recommendation:
Aston Villa to win 3-1 - 20/1
Ashley Young to score anytime - 11/4

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