Last Updated: 18/08/12 4:58pm
FULL-TIME: West Ham are off to the perfect start with a 1-0 victory at home to Aston Villa. Kevin Nolan's close-range finish five minutes before half-time was enough to seal all three points. Substitute Modibo Maiga should have added a second deep into stoppage time, but Nathan Baker got back to make the clearance off the line. Villa were short of ideas and have plenty of work ahead of them.
WHAT A CHANCE! Modibo Maiga is clean through and although he takes the ball around Given, Baker gets back to make the clearance off the line.
The result is the most important thing and Sam Allardyce is ranting at the assistant on the near side.
Former Villa man James Collins has been voted the man of the match by the sponsors at West Ham today.
The offside flag goes up against Darren Bent and we're looking at four minutes of stoppage time at Upton Park.
The clock is ticking and are West Ham about to get their Premier League campaign off to a winning start.
The only hope for Villa is that half of the 16 Premier League matches Aston Villa have played at Upton Park have ended in draws.
Villa have failed to win in their last five away opening Premier League fixtures of the season, since a 1-0 victory at Newcastle in 1999 and it's looking like another defeat this afternoon for the visitors.
West Ham have been the better side in the second half and have looked comfortable in possession. They've also looked much more threatening in attack.
BAD MISS! Matt Taylor's inswinging cross is somehow headed inches wide of the far post by the unmarked Carlton Cole.
Ron Vlaar picks the ball up 40-yards out and his deflected shot is well held by Jussi Jaaskelainen. That could have been tricky for the experienced goalkeeper.
Ron Vlaar's clearance is poor and Matt Taylor looks for Ricardo Vaz Te in the box, but he struggles to reach the ball.
SUBSTITUTIONS: James Tomkins replaces goalscorer Kevin Nolan for West Ham while Gary Gardner comes on for Charles N'Zogbia.
SUBSTITUTION: Joey O'Brien replaces George McCartney in the full-back position for West Ham. A straight swap.
Play is back underway and Fabian Delph's shot deftects off Collins for a corner. The short corner is again deflected for another one.
George McCartney is suffering from cramp on the far side of the field as the heat begins to take its toll.
That piece of skill by Vaz Te was something to behold and the Hammers will need that kind of imagination if they are to survive this season.
SO CLOSE! Ricardo Vaz Te shows sensational skills to evade Nathan Baker and he finds Kevin Nolan on the edge of the box, but his shot is blocked.
Villa press down the right and he finds Charles N'Zogbia whose shot takes a deflection and the visitors earn their first corner of the game.
SUBSTITUTION: Austrian international Andreas Weimann replaces Brett Holman which means Villa will switch to a 4-4-2 formation.
An hour gone then and Villa are waiting to make the first change of the afternoon as Bent wins a free-kick out on the right.
The second half hasn't started too well for Villa and Lambert is contemplating making a change as we approach the hour mark.
Mohamed Diame tunrs and twists before finding George McCartney, but his cross is collected easily by Shay Given.
talking about gold, David Gold was on the big screens at the break talking about the decision on the Olympic Stadium, which is imminent.
The Boleyn Ground is jumping. We had boxing gold medallist Nicola Adams on the pitch at the break and that must surely inspire these players.
Villa are back in possession, but Lambert will worry about the lack of creativity. Bent bends his run, but the ball fails to find him.
Mohamed Diame wins the ball off Ireland and decides to have a pop at goal. Maybe he should have had second thoughts on that because it was way wide.
PENALTY CLAIMS! Carlton Cole has his hands up in the air because he felt he was pushed to the ground by Dutchman Ron Vlaar. Referee Mike Dean saw nothing wrong however.
At the other end, West Ham win a second corner in quick succession in front of the Bobby Moore stand, but it drifts out for a goal-kick.
Villa hit the target for the first time in this match as Stephen Ireland's low drive is held by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
West Ham get the second half underway and the home fans have been happily blowing bubbles at the break.
The Villa players are back out on the pitch. Referee Mike Dean did confirm that the goal was awarded because the ball had come off Ciaran Clark's head.
If you'd like to air your views during the second half, email Raz...that's me! at email@example.com or Tweet me: @RazMirza and I'll publish as many as I can.
West Ham are now 2/7 to claim victory with @Skybet, who make Aston Villa 10/1 and the draw 7/2. My pre-match prediction of 1-1, which was 5/1, is now 4/1. Head now to SKYBET to place your bets on this match.
HALF-TIME: West Ham lead at the break as skipper Mark Noble's free-kick is met by the head of Villa's Ciaran Clark, which means no offside on Ricardo Vaz Te, who is allowed to find an unmarked Kevin Nolan to slot the ball into an empty net after 40 minutes.
Mohamed Diame makes a fine tackle on Brett Holman and now Ron Vlaar is penalised for pushing Carlton Cole.
Well, that incident happened right in front of the Villa fans and they don't seem to happy with the decision to award the goal. Having said that, the Hammers fans don't seem give a jot.
Controversy at Upton Park as the resuting free-kick is launched into the box and the ball falls to Ricardo Vaz Te in what looked to be an offide position, but he finds Nolan to finish from close-range. The assistant did raise his flag, but then put it back down. Referee Mike Dean went over to speak to his assistant and awarded the goal.
Big Sam is looking to stregthen his squad with new signings Modibo Maiga and Alou Diarra on the bench today.
CLOSE! The ball is teed up for Kevin Nolan to hit, but he drives the ball inches wide of the near post.
Now Vlaar is back on the pitch with his head bandaged and immediately concedes a free-kick on the edge of the box as he climbs over Carlton Cole's back.
Matt Taylor decides to have a pop from 30-yards and his goalbound effort is deflected away with Shay Given diving to his left.
Meanwhile, former Feyenoord defender Ron Vlaar is having to go off the field with a head injury. Blood is streaming down his head.
Brilliant tracking back by Stephen Ireland on Matt Taylor. Excellent sliding tackle by last season's player of the season at Villa.
Brett Holman and Darren Bent look to combine but West Ham win the ball back until Ron Vlaar steps in.
Mohamed Diame and Fabian Delph are having a right old ding dong in the middle of the pitch. A very interesting battle and one to keep an eye on for the rest of this afternoon.
Delph finds Brett Holman out wide on the left, but the Australian's delivery is awful and drifts out for a goalkick to the Hammers.
Matt Taylor's corner looks for James Collins, but the ball runs through and now Villa are back on the ball.
Darren Bent - captain of Villa today - tries to hold the ball up and at the other end Carlton Cole looks for the knock down, but he has forced a corner.
Mohamed Diame does well to bring the ball out until Kevin Nolan turns into danger and gives the free-kick away.
Fabian Delph makes a mistake which allows Ricardo Vaz Te to get his head up, but his delivery is not the best in the world.
Lambert's first signing, Karim El Ahmadi decides to have a dig from 30-yards, but it's high, wide and handsome.
Former Villa man James Collins does really well to intercept an attempted through ball by Charles N'Zogbia for Darren Bent.
Aston Villa are looking to go much shorter rather than launch the ball forward like they did last season under Alex McLeish.
West Ham are struggling to keep hold of the ball, but they win a free-kick as El Ahmadi pulls Mark Noble back.
Villa are in possession wearing their new away kit - a bright metallic gold colour, while West Ham are the team in claret and blue today.
The last time I was at Upton Park. I saw non other than Marlon Harewood scoring a top flight hat-trick in a 4-0 home victory. That was back in the 2005-06 season. Any chance of something like that happening today?
These sides met on the opening day two seasons ago, with Villa winning 3-0 at home. Is that an omen I wonder?
Thanks for the comments. Keep them coming in during the game! Email Raz...that's me! at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet me: @RazMirza and I'll publish as many as I can.
Via Twitter, @michael_canavan says: 'WHU. New season New start. COYI!!!' That's 'Come on you Irons' for non Hammers fans by the way.
And Tim says: 'The villa side looks so much better than last seasons, the new back line looks fresh and there's plenty of options in attack. Fingers crossed for a Villa win!!'
Dave.....a happy Villian says: 'Hi Raz, I'm delighted with the appointment of Paul Lambert as our new manager, think we're going to see a lot of goals in Villa games this season as we have some quality attacking players who will now be encouraged to attack. Really optimistic about this season and a mid table finish and good cup run will show we're heading in the right direction. I'm predicting a score line of West Ham 1 Villa 3 today. Ireland and Bent 2 to give Villa and Lambo the dream start.'
Aaron emails in to say: 'Good afternoon Raz. I think this will be brilliant season one of the very best. think Villa very lucky to survive last season same for west ham. Very tight game, 2-1 to the Hammers.'
Tom in Rugeley says: 'A villa fan, hoping for a win, think we need an early goal to settle the nerves. I think it's going to be 2-1 to the Villa (Bent and Holman) with the Hammers scoring very late on in the game for a tense finish.'
Tom emails me to say: 'Buzzing for the new season to start but on the Villa vs West Ham game, I think that a newly promoted West Ham should have no worries about this game, they will have loads of confidence. Its 3 1 to West Ham for me!'
Meanwhile, West Ham have given debuts to goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and Mohamed Diame. Wales centre-back James Collins makes his second debut for the East London club following his summer return to Upton Park from Villa.
Aston Villa's new manager Paul Lambert hands debuts to summer signings Brett Holman, Ron Vlaar, Matthew Lowton and Karim El Ahmadi.
West Ham are 6/5 to claim victory with @Skybet, who make Aston Villa 21/10 and the draw 12/5. The Hammers' Carlton Cole is favourite to bag the first goal for the hosts at 6/1 and is 50/1 to bag a hat-trick at what will be a packed Boleyn Ground. Ricardo Vaz Te is 13/2 to score first. Kevin Nolan is 11/4 to score in 90 minutes while Mark Noble is 10/1 to score first. Meanwhile, Villa's Darren Bent is 5/1 to score first for the visitors. Stephen Ireland is a nice 12/1 shot along with Charles N'Zogbia. New signing Brett Holman is a 7/2 shot to score in 90 minutes this afternoon. I'm going for a pre-match prediction of 1-1, which is 5/1. Head now to SKYBET to place your bets on this match.
Meanwhile, @Treva2010avfc Tweets me to say: 'Ok I can tell new season is upon us a my heart rate has started to become elevated.'
Cian is first to email in today and he says: 'Hello. new season cant wait... West Ham promoted but I think villa can beat them 3-1.' Confident prediction!
Villa's new midfield signing Brett Holman has recovered from a knee problem and is available, along with three fellow summer arrivals in central defender Ron Vlaar, right-back Matthew Lowton and midfielder Karim El Ahmadi. Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor (knee), defender Richard Dunne (groin) and winger Marc Albrighton (foot) are sidelined. Lambert has admitted being an admirer of Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe and Stoke forward Kenwyne Jones as he looks to further strengthen his squad. He also confirmed there was no imminent move likely for full-back Stephen Warnock and Alan Hutton, who can leave if the price is right. Would you Villa fans like to see Defoe at the club? Send me your thoughts.
Jack Collison will miss today's opener for West Ham after aggravating an existing knee injury towards the end of last season, which has seen him miss pre-season. Fellow Wales international James Collins is fit to face his former club after a groin injury, but manager Allardyce revealed his summer signings from overseas, Alou Diarra and Modibo Maiga, will not start.
So, what do you think Hammers fans. Are you confident of staying in the Premier League under Big Sam? And are you Villa fans excited to begin the season under new boss Lambert. How far do you think you can go? Email Raz...that's me! at email@example.com or Tweet me: @RazMirza and I'll publish as many as I can.
Meanwhile, Paul Lambert has urged Villa supporters to stick with the team through the ups and downs that will lie ahead during the next nine months. The Scot said: 'The history of Villa, that raises the bar because of that side of things and the expectancy level. When you go to any club it's hard. It's not an easy job, football management, and Norwich was tough to turn around. But Villa is a huge club and I can't wait for the season to start now, the atmosphere, the adrenalin rush, and trying to win as many games as we can. We have to hit the ground running and that is what we will try and do. You have to be ready. There is no turning back now.'
West Ham's Sam Allardyce insists his side will not take Villa for granted today. The Hammers secured their return to the top flight via the play-offs last season, bouncing back at the first attempt after relegation under Avram Grant. Allardyce has rejected the notion that the fixture is an easy one. 'Everybody thought that Cardiff City at home was a comfortable start last season and we got beat 1-0 in the last minute,' he said.'I don't think there is any kind of comfortable start in the Premier League. I think there is a possibility that we can get off to a good start if we give a good performance.'
If you'd like to air your views before or during the match, email Raz...that's me! at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet me: @RazMirza and I'll publish as many as I can.