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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 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 ahead of what could be 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 are going to get criticism when you’re in a position we’re in. Their job is to prove people wrong. Without a doubt, we have seen a better Aston Villa after the break.
Liverpool vs A Villa
July 5, 2020, 4:15pm
“The points tally hasn’t shown that, we played Wolves last week and they are pushing for the Champions League and there was nothing between the 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 determined to do so with Villa this season.
“I’ve still not been relegated as a manager and I don’t expect to be this season either,” he added.
“I’ve been in ‘great escapes’. I was at Walsall when we were eight points adrift. This isn’t adrift. This is a six-team battle.
“Only two of the teams in the bottom six have won [since the Premier League restart] and both were in 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.”