Sunday at the Olympics

Up next for the Villa it’s West Ham away.

Sunday sees us travelling to the horriblest ground for away supporters in the league. When West Ham played at Upton Park there was always at least the sense of achievement when you got home in one piece. At the London Stadium there’s not even that. The view’s not brilliant, the atmosphere’s dreadful and you’re not only paying for a ticket, we had to shell out to build the thing in the first place. When government cronyism is reported this bit of skulduggery should always be in there.

West Ham are a football club and cultural phenomenon with a long and noble history. They invented youth policies, won the World Cup, legitimised organised crime as a tourist attraction and did the same with football violence. Their owners aren’t very nice people. They used to bounce merrily between the top two divisions and now they’ve settled into just above mid-table. They also played in Europe last Thursday but they didn’t have it as easy as we did.

Their manager looks like a garage mechanic who sucks his teeth and makes up estimates a lot, they’ve still got Danny Ings because they didn’t get a money back guarantee when we offloaded him and for the rest of the season they’re employing the ever-graceful Kalvin Phillips. We’ve got John McGinn suspended, Ollie Watkins has probably had to have his leg amputated and there’s bound to be another catastrophe just waiting to happen. But we’ve got Unai Emery in charge of whoever’s left, and that makes up for everything. We have’t got a particularly good record here, although we did avoid relegation what seems a hundred years ago on this very spot.

Our away form’s picked up, which is just as well, and if we can win this one we’re pretty much guaranteed to finish above them. Over to you, chaps.