July 24, 2020 / 11:58 AM / 17 days ago

Premier League survival is in our own hands, says Villa's Smith

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Aston Villa v Arsenal - Villa Park, Birmingham, Britain - July 21, 2020 Aston Villa manager Dean Smith reacts during the match, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pool via REUTERS/Shaun Botterill

(Reuters) - Aston Villa will go into Sunday’s Premier League clash at West Ham United knowing their future in the English top flight is in their own hands, manager Dean Smith said on Friday.

Villa climbed up to 17th in the standings after Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Arsenal and are above the drop zone only because of a better goal difference than Watford in 18th.

Villa, who spent more than 140 million pounds on transfers after gaining promotion last year, will stay up if they win at West Ham and Watford do not win away at Arsenal. However, a draw or a loss complicates the relegation scenario.

“We control our own destiny and that’s what we wanted to have going into the last game,” Smith told reporters. “It was looking unlikely and that we’d have to rely on others, but results went our way... and we’re above the dotted line.

“The most important thing is to be above that dotted line on Sunday and we know we have to win to guarantee that. We’ll be going all-out to win.

“We’re also mindful of the fact that although they (West Ham) are safe now, they’ve been very good recently. They had a massive win against Watford and a big point against a really in-form Manchester United in the week.”

Villa had struggled for form since the season restarted last month following the COVID-19 hiatus, with a six-match winless run denting their survival bid. However, Smith’s side have picked up seven points from their last three games.

“It’s been physically demanding on myself and the coaching staff, it’s been tough for the players,” Smith added.

“To come into a period of games with less training than you would normally have, that was always going to be tough... These lads have managed to deal with it so far. We’ve got one game to go and we know it’s a massive one.”

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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