By George Overhill

10th Mar, 2023 | 9:10am

Paul Merson predicts West Ham United vs Aston Villa result, drops definitive David Moyes verdict

West Ham “need” to keep hold of David Moyes according to Paul Merson, who has predicted a win over Aston Villa this weekend.

Amid uncertainty over the manager and speculation at board level the Hammers come into the clash at the London Stadium on Sunday (12 March) just a point outside the relegation zone in 16th.

Sky Sports pundit Merson has admitted this one could go either way but has gone for a 2-1 Hammers victory which would help lift the pressure on Moyes, whom he has given clear support.

Merson said in his Sportskeeda predictions column: “This is going to be a great contest. West Ham United beat Nottingham Forest 4-0 a couple of weeks ago. I think that result helped the Hammers paper over the cracks.

“In that game, all four of their goals came after the 70th minute. They then went and got beaten 4-0 by Brighton & Hove Albion.

“This is a massive game for David Moyes and Co. West Ham need to keep Moyes in charge.

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“This is a hard game to call. I’d call this a pundit’s nightmare. Either team could win the game 2-1 and you wouldn’t be shocked.

“I’m going to go with West Ham due to their home advantage. But in no way would I be shocked if Villa won the game.”

Press home

The Irons will need to use that home advantage if they are going to start performing away from home the way they did down at Brighton last week (4 March).

The uplifting attacking display from a week earlier (25 February) in the 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest in Stratford was nowhere to be seen for the reverse by the same scoreline at the Amex.

Moyes’ repeated reversion to caution and defensiveness is starting to wear thin among the players [Guardian, 6 March], so it is sure to not go down well if he cedes the initiative in a winnable home game.

Success in the Europa Conference League would be nice but will not be an adequate consolation if the inconsistent league form continues to leave West Ham in relegation danger.

Unai Emery’s side can be dangerous and come in having beaten two relegation-threatened sides on the bounce in Everton and Crystal Palace.

But prior to that they conceded 11 goals over a three-game stretch, including a 4-2 home defeat to struggling Leicester.

So there will really be no excuses for Moyes and his side not to turn up and put in a performance in this one, and with the board showing no signs of giving up on the manager he needs to make use of that backing, even if it is only be default.