West Ham – Aston Villa on the final day of the season on Sunday (start time, 11am ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) will be nerve-wracking for every single Villa fan across the globe.
Dean Smith’s side beat Arsenal last time out to drag themselves out of the relegation zone, on goal difference, with one game to go but they know they have to better the result achieved by Watford and Bournemouth to stay up. Jack Grealish will have to inspire Villa to record a third win in their last four games of the season to secure their Premier League status.
If Villa win and Watford win at Arsenal on the final day, it will go down to goal difference and Villa have the edge. By one goal. This will be tense.
[ MORE: Relegation scenarios explained ]
West Ham and David Moyes are safe from relegation after an impressed draw at Manchester United and the Hammers have been dangerous since the break with Michail Antonio a threat and Thomas Soucek dominant.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of West Ham – Aston Villa.
West Ham give promising young right back Ben Johnson more minutes, as he looks to be lining up at left back with Aaron Cresswell out, while Moyes has gone with his strongest possible lineup to finish the season with a win.
— West Ham United (@WestHam) July 26, 2020
Aston Villa lost Ahmed Elmohamady early on against Arsenal to a hamstring injury and Frederic Guilbert came on and did really well to replace him at right back and starts on Sunday. Wesley and Tom Heaton remain Villa’s long-term absentees.
🚨 𝗧 𝗘 𝗔 𝗠 𝗡 𝗘 𝗪 𝗦 🚨
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) July 26, 2020
What they’re saying
Jarrod Bowen on West Ham’s fine finish to the season: “I said when I joined, the quality in the squad is unbelievable and we shouldn’t be in the position we were in, but we couldn’t complain about it. We just had to play to everyone’s strengths and we’ve got a big squad and everyone plays their part. We’ve done that recently and now we’ve picked up the point that’s mathematically kept us up. We’ve got a lot of confidence going into the last game and we want to finish the season strongly. It’s only four or five weeks [until the new season starts] so there is not much time between when we finish to when we get started again, so we can use the memories of our performances at the start of next season because the way we have finished the season has been very strong.”
Dean Smith after the win v. Arsenal on his players having the edge due to their one-off game experience: “I certainly hope so. We’ve got enough players who have been through one-game situations before in their final last year. I said the last four games were our [playoff] semifinals and now we are through to the final. We will certainly be ready for it but we know there can be no complacency. There was no celebrating from the players tonight, just the relief and satisfaction for the performance.”
Odds and ends (full matchweek odds)
The hosts West Ham are the favorites (+220) and with the pressure off David Moyes’ side, they can enjoy themselves and go on the front foot. That may suit Aston Villa (+123) who obviously need a win to keep their destiny in their own hands, although the tie (+245) is an attractive bet.
Both teams have been in really good form since the restart but both have very different motivations heading into the final day. The Hammers are safe and are playing to stay in 15th place in the table, while Aston Villa need a win to try and secure their safety. With Grealish on form and a defensive unit playing so well, I think Villa will just edge this as they’ve finally delivered solid performances. West Ham 1-2 Aston Villa.
How to watch West Ham – Aston Villa stream and start time
Kickoff: 11am ET Sunday
TV Channel: NBCSN
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com