How tough is Aston Villa’s run-in as they battle to stay up?
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith says his side have what it takes to get the points they need to stay up, but how hard is their run in?
Villa sit second from bottom in the Premier League, two points from safety, but with 11 games remaining this season, there is enough time to get out of trouble if they can string a run of results together.
It is much easier said than done of course, and all of their relegation rivals will be thinking exactly the same as the battle for survival hots up.
However Smith says his side should hold no fear heading into the last 11 games and all the teams they will face are beatable.
The Villa boss points to Watford’s surprise 3-0 win over Liverpool last week, and believes that proves that anything is possible in the crazy world of the Premier League.
So who have Villa got in the last 11 games and how tough will it be. Here is the run-in and it does not make pretty reading for Villa fans.
Villa kick-off with a tough trip to third-placed Leicester City on Monday night. Despite the fact the they beat them in the Carabao Cup semi-finals and Brendan Rodgers’ side have suffered a dip in form of late, it will take a huge effort to get something from the game.
Next up is a home game with Chelsea, who like Leicester are in the top four. Frank Lampard’s men have been inconsistent to say the least, but could be having a second wind after impressive wins over Liverpool in the FA Cup and Everton in the Premier League. All depends on which Chelsea side pitch up at Villa Park.
April is going to be a huge month and Villa’s survival chances could hinge on it with three of the four games to be played at home.
First up will be a Midlands derby against Wolves and another team with aspiration of qualifying for the Champions League, while the same can of course be said of Manchester United who also visit on April 19.
Again it will all depend on which Manchester United side arrive and Villa will be hoping it is not the one that beat Manchester City 2-0 on Sunday.
Sandwiched in between is a trip to Liverpool, and it could be the game that seals the Premier League title for Liverpool. Either way it is hard to see Villa getting anything from this one, before they wrap up the month with a must-win game against Crystal Palace.
In May Villa travel to Everton and then West Ham on the last day of the season, with a home game against Arsenal to be played in between.
There is also a home game with Sheffield United and a trip to Newcastle to be re-arranged in a hectic finale to the season.
Smith’s optimism is to be commended but with games against five Champions League contenders and the Premier League champions on the horizon it is going to be a tough run in and Villa could have to pull off something extraordinary to get out of trouble.