He watched them numerous times when he made his move to sign central defender James Collins, who will return to Upton Park at the heart of the Villa backline tonight.
O'Neil said: "Am I surprised by the start they have made? I would have expected them to have more points.
"I have seen them quite a few times this season. I was obviously looking when there was a possibility that James Collins would be available so I saw them early season.
"I would think they should have more points on the board but I thought their fight-back against Arsenal was fantastic.
"So back at Upton Park I would expect them to be a really tough test."