West ham set for villa finale in premier league campaign
West Ham wrap up their season on Sunday when Aston Villa travel to Upton Park in a game that has significance for both clubs.
The Hammers need to win to guarantee tenth place, ahead of bitter rivals Tottenham who lie just two points behind them in the Premier League table.
Spurs' superior goal difference means Alan Curbishley's men could be overtaken if they draw and Tottenham beat Liverpool, something that would be unpalatable to the majority of the Upton Park faithful.
Villa, meanwhile, could still pip Everton for fifth place and a spot in next season's UEFA Cup if they beat the Hammers and the Toffees lose to Newcastle.
Midfielder Scott Parker, whose debut season at the Boleyn has been plagued by injury, acknowledged last Saturday's 4-1 thrashing at Manchester United was disappointing, but insists the players are planning to make amends this weekend.
"We need to draw a line under this result and carry on the way were going," he said. "We need to go into the Villa game and try and pick up three points. We need to get tenth and that's what we're going to do. We're going to go into that game fully focused and hopefully get all three points."
A tenth-place finish, although not quite what Hammers' fans envisaged at the start of the season, would represent a decent return, considering the state the club were in this time last year and the terrible injury problems afflicting Curbishley's squad.
Big money signings such as Kieran Dyer, Craig Bellamy and Freddie Ljungberg have all barely featured this term, and a disappointing string of results since the turn of the year has led to speculation about Curbishley's future.
It would be harsh if the manager was sacked before he's been given a chance to show what his first choice team could do but, as Curbishley has often acknowledged this season, football is a results business and his side just haven't been producing enough good ones.
With speculation surrounding much of the squad, and with Curbishley under orders to trim his playing staff, the Villa game could prove to be a swansong for one or two familiar faces.
Striker Carlton Cole has been linked with a move to Sunderland, while Tottenham are reportedly interested in Anton Ferdinand. And rumours abound that Ljungberg is to be shown the door with a bumper £3million pay-off.
More likely is the off-loading of squad players like Nigel Quashie and Calum Davenport as the manager looks to maintain the quality of his staff, while reducing the numbers.
After all, he couldn't have as much bad luck with injuries next season, could he?
West Ham v Aston Villa. Sunday May 11. Kick-off 3pm.