Newly-promoted West Ham are looking to make a winning Premier League return when they host Aston Villa at Upton Park on Saturday. But there is also a new dawn for the Birmingham club with recently-appointed manager Paul Lambert taking charge of a competitive game for the first time.
The Hammers bounced back to the top-flight at the first time of asking, despite many supporters having an uneasy relationship with manager Sam Allardyce amid criticism of his team's style of play. Expectations of a raft of big-name signings have not materialised, but Allardyce has added two seasoned top-flight campaigners in goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and centre-half James Collins, who joined from Saturday's opponents Villa, to bring experience to his defensive line. And Mali striker Modibo Maiga could prove to be an inspired signing for the Hammers, who missed out on an ambitious move for England striker Andy Carroll.
Meanwhile, Lambert's arrival has given Villa fans a renewed sense of optimism after a traumatic campaign which nearly ended in relegation last season. Former boss Alex McLeish was never a popular figure following his switch from bitter rivals Birmingham and it was unsurprising when he was sacked after a dreadful season where Villa finished 16th. Lambert has brought in four new faces, Australia midfielder Brett Holman, Netherlands central defender Ron Vlaar, right-back Matthew Lowton and midfielder Karim El Ahmadi, who will be eager to prove themselves in their debut Premier League seasons. Added to the experience already in the squad, their arrivals should bring a new hunger to Villa Park as Lambert aims for a top-half finish.
• West Ham have lost their last two opening day fixtures since beginning with a 2-0 win at Wolves three years ago.
• Aston Villa have failed to win in their last five away opening PL fixtures of the season, since a 1-0 victory at Newcastle in 1999.