Villa snatch a life­line af­ter Wat­ford crash

Smith’s side hold off Ar­se­nal to send rel­e­ga­tion fight to wire Vicarage Road club slip into drop zone af­ter rout by City

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Sam Dean

As­ton Villa head coach Dean Smith hailed his side’s “courage and heart” af­ter they seized the ini­tia­tive in the Premier League’s rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle with a spir­ited vic­tory over Ar­se­nal at Villa Park.

A first-half strike by Egyp­tian winger Trezeguet se­cured three points and Villa over­took Wat­ford to move out of the rel­e­ga­tion zone for the first time since Fe­bru­ary.

The win meant Villa cap­i­talised on Wat­ford’s ear­lier thrash­ing at home by Manch­ester City and en­sured the rel­e­ga­tion dog­fight goes to the fi­nal day of the cam­paign.

Villa’s fate is now in their own hands as they pre­pare to meet West Ham United on Sun­day, while Wat­ford face a tricky trip to the Emi­rates to face Ar­se­nal. The sides are level on 34 points. Bournemout­h, who travel to Ever­ton, are three points be­hind.

The mo­men­tum ap­pears to be with Villa ahead of a dra­matic last round of fix­tures. Wat­ford goal­keeper Ben Fos­ter said his team’s con­fi­dence was “crazy, crazy low” af­ter their 4-0 de­feat by a Ra­heem Ster­ling-in­spired City.

“It was a great per­for­mance but an even bet­ter re­sult,” said Smith. “We knew we had to show a lot of courage, heart and workrate and we did that. We needed this. We have got to go and do the same against West Ham on Sun­day.

“It’s a big boost, that’s for sure. We knew we had to win to catch Wat­ford up. Now we’ve got the sea­son in our own hands and that’s all you can ask for.”

Jack Gre­al­ish, the Villa cap­tain, ad­mit­ted it had been a nerve-rack­ing few hours for the club. “It [the vic­tory] feels un­be­liev­able,” said Gre­al­ish. “It has been a tense day but all we can do is fo­cus on our­selves. It’s in our hands now and it’s up to us what we do on the last day.”

Wat­ford’s de­feat by City also robbed them of their advantage on

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