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By PA Media
Last Updated: 03/07/20 11:31pm
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith believes they can still pull off ‘mission impossible’ by retaining their Premier League status.
Villa go fully into the weekend’s fixtures a point from safety with six games left, with newly crowned champions Liverpool their next opponents on Sunday – live on Sky Sports.
After travelling to Anfield they face Manchester United, Crystal Palace, Everton and Arsenal in front of what is actually a crucial final-day trip to fellow-strugglers West Ham.
They have not won in any competition since January but despite critics expecting them to go down, Smith insisted Villa can pull off their escape.
“Unfortunately we haven’t got Tom Cruise with us but I’ve got 11 players and I’ve seen a desire in their eyes,” he said.
“They feel stung by criticism, you will get criticism when you’re capable we’re in. Their job is to prove people wrong. Without question, we have seen a better Aston Villa following the break.
Liverpool vs A Villa
July 5, 2020, 4:15pm
“The points tally hasn’t shown that, we played Wolves a week ago and they are pushing for the Champions League and there clearly was nothing between your two teams. The only quality on show was the goal.
“If we manage to stay up this season, which I believe we will, there will be a better Aston Villa next year.”
Smith pulled off a ‘great escape’ in his first season as a manager at Walsall in 2010-11 and is set to do so with Villa in 2010.
“I’ve still not been relegated as a manager and I don’t expect to be this season either,” that he added.
“I’ve held it’s place in ‘great escapes’. I was at Walsall when we were eight points adrift. This isn’t adrift. This is just a six-team battle.
“Only two of the teams in underneath six have won [since the Premier League restart] and both were within the last minute: Brighton against Arsenal and West Ham against Chelsea.
“We’re all battling for points. Every day you’re drawing on experiences you’ve had. At Walsall we were eight points adrift and the following season was a battle as well and we managed to come through that by being a team that was together.”
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