If you handed us a final day showdown with West Ham at the start of the month, any one of us would have accepted it. Aston Villa were seven points away from safety just a matter of weeks ago. The roller coaster that is Aston Villa has done what many of us thought was impossible and now we find ourselves in charge of our own destiny.
On paper, it’s simple. We beat West Ham and better and result that Watford achieve against Arsenal and we stay in the Premier League. I could go into the ifs and buts about all the different scenarios but that was covered on the website yesterday.
The one big problem with me saying its simple is, well, Aston Villa. As much as we are capable of a solid performance as we witnessed against Arsenal, we are also capable of a performance we witnessed against Watford earlier in the season. Dean Smith must ensure Villa are at the top of their game and have no regrets come 6.00pm this evening.
We all accept we could have done things better this season, but lets re-evaluate this summer with our name still in the Premier League next season. The victory against Arsenal will count for nothing if we don’t finish the job today.
Freddie Guilbert will most likely keep his place after he replaced Ahmed Elmohamady in the victory against Arsenal. The Egyptian picked up an hamstring injury so will be unavailable.
Smith is hopeful that Neil Taylor will return from injury and be available for selection. The Welsh International trained yesterday and providing there were no slip-ups he should be in the squad.
Robert Snodgrass is unlikely to come up against one of his former clubs. The winger has been missing since football resumed after lock-down and a back injury will rule him out today.
Jarrod Bowen picked up a few knocks in West Ham’s previous game but should be OK to play. Aaron Cresswell and Ryan Fredericks will have late fitness tests but may not be risked.
I fully expect Smith to stick with the same line-up that beat Arsenal. The one exception will be Guilbert starting as covered above.
FANTASY PREMIER LEAGUE
My pick for Villa this week is John McGinn. I felt the former Hibs man was looking closer to himself against Arsenal and he will have the fire in his belly to try and help Villa get over the line.
Despite missing a large chunk of the season the midfielder still has a respectable 79 points this season and can be picked up for just £5.2M.
One of the biggest threats to Villa’s survival (apart from themselves) is in-form forward Michail Antonio. The forward has scored six goals in his last three games which has contributed to his 111 points this season, the most from the West Ham side. He will set you back £7.1M.
I want to be positive but the closer we get to this game the more nervous I get as I know exactly what Villa can be like.
West Ham 1-1 Aston Villa
Details and Television
Competition: Premier League
Venue: The London Stadium, London
Date: Sunday, 26th July 2020
Kick-off: 4.00 pm (UK Time)
Television: BT Sports