‘Now we’ve got the season in our own hands’ - Aston Villa target one more win

Mikel Arteta refused to criticise his Arsenal players for a meek display or the owners

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith during his team’s win against Arsenal at Villa Park. Photograph: Getty Images

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith during his team’s win against Arsenal at Villa Park. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Dean Smith admitted Aston Villa must target victory in their final match against West Ham to ensure Premier League survival after climbing out of the relegation zone for the first time since the end of February by beating Arsenal.

A brilliant goal from Mahmoud Trezeguet in the first half and a resolute defensive performance from the hosts sealed the win against Mikel Arteta’s side, who were heavily changed from the FA Cup semi-final triumph against Manchester City at the weekend.

It meant Villa moved above Watford following their 4-0 thrashing against City, with Bournemouth also still in with a fighting chance of survival despite being three points behind going into the final round of fixtures on Sunday.

Watford travel to Arsenal and Bournemouth face Everton at Goodison Park, meaning Villa must win at the London Stadium to give themselves the best possible chance of avoiding an immediate return to the Championship.

“We needed this,” said Smith. “We’ve got to go and do the same against West Ham on Sunday. Now we’ve got the season in our own hands and that’s all you can ask for.”

Jack Grealish, the Villa captain, was also delighted with the victory but acknowledged he could have played his last home game for his boyhood club. “I’m not too sure at the moment,” he told Sky. “I have one aim and that’s to keep Villa in the Premier League. That’s all I’m thinking about at the moment.”

Arteta refused to criticise his Arsenal players for a meek display following their weekend victory against City. The result means they will finish outside the top six for the first time in 25 years, with some supporters showing their displeasure at the club’s American owners by flying a plane over Villa Park with a banner reading “Back Arteta: Kroenke Out”.

“The Kroenkes and the board and the sporting director, I have their full backing,” the manager said. “I have that 100 per cent – the fans have to believe what I’m saying. But the gap doesn’t lie. We have to make that smaller and smaller.” - Guardian

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