Football

Aston Villa tipped to stay up after win over Arsenal

Their fate is in their own hands, while Watford and Bournemouth have tougher ties

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith praised his side's courage and heart after they moved out of the English Premier League's relegation zone with a 1-0 win over Arsenal yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Villa were given a boost when Watford were thrashed 4-0 by Manchester City earlier, but still needed to beat Arsenal to move above Watford and out of the bottom three by virtue of goal difference.

Trezeguet's first-half goal proved enough and Villa will go into the final game of the season away at West Ham United knowing that victory will keep them up, as long as Watford do not win at Arsenal by a big margin.

It will be a tortuous Sunday for Smith and his team,who have been in the bottom three since February.

"It was a great performance but an even better result. We knew we had to show a lot of courage, heart and workrate and we did that," said Smith.

"Now we've got the season in our own hands and that's all you can ask for."

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp believes Villa's win over Arsenal has made all the difference, expecting Smith's side to clinch survival on the final day.

"They've all got tough games, but the game you would most want would be West Ham away, if I'm honest," he said.

"For Watford, Arsenal cannot be as bad as they were today, so I think that's a really difficult fixture.

"Bournemouth are going to an Everton team who just got a really good result against Sheffield United (Everton won 1-0). So I think, right now, everything is in Aston Villa's favour."

Watford will need to overcome their crisis of confidence if they are to repeat Villa's feat.

Hornets goalkeeper Ben Foster admitted that the team are in a rut after the thrashing by City, which came only two days after Nigel Pearson became the third Watford manager to be sacked this season, leaving the reins to caretaker boss Hayden Mullins.

"The confidence is so crazy low. I don't know why it is or why it should be ... you get into a state of trying to minimise as much damage as you can, but it's a dangerous way to approach games," Foster told Sky Sports.

City forward Raheem Sterling scored a first-half brace to take his league tally to 19 goals for this campaign, but Pep Guardiola reminded his team of their inconsistency all season.

He said: " This was the first time we've managed to win four in a row in the league. Two seasons ago, we managed 18 (in a row), last season we managed 14.

"This shows how poor the consistency has been... This happened because something was wrong and I need to discover what it was ahead of next season." - REUTERS

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