Aston Villa will probably have to win their last two matches against Arsenal and West Ham if they are to survive in the Premier League, says boss Dean Smith.
Villa were denied a crucial away win at Everton when substitute Theo Walcott headed an 87th-minute equaliser to cancel out Ezri Konsa’s goal.
Smith’s side are three points from safety, with a home game against Arsenal next Tuesday followed by an away match at fellow strugglers West Ham on the final day of the Premier League season on 26 July to come.
“It looks that way,” said Smith after being asked whether they now needed two victories.
Villa have won once in 12 Premier League games but Smith believes his side is capable of staying up.
“I know we are not out of it because I can see the fight in the players,” he added.
“We’ve gone all out to win this game and done enough to win it but unfortunately a lapse of concentration and not making it 2-0 has cost us.”
Konsa’s first Premier League goal looked to have earned Villa a crucial win at Goodison park, the former Brentford defender pouncing from close range after getting on the end of Conor Hourihane’s free-kick.
But Villa were unable to hold on, Walcott heading the home side level despite Konsa’s attempted goal-line clearance.
Time running out for Villa
The aim for Smith and his Villa players is to get to the final day of the season still in with a chance of staying up.
Despite taking four points from the last two games, time is running out for the West Midlands club.
With West Ham hosting Watford on Friday, Villa will be four points from safety if the game between 16th and 17th ends in a draw at London Stadium.
Having seen his side take the lead in the 72nd minute with the game’s first attempt on target, Smith cut a dejected figure at the final whistle as his team failed to defend their advantage.
Villa limited their opponents to a handful of chances before a drab affair burst into life when Konsa struck after a lovely set-piece from Hourihane.
However, Villa are the only side without an away clean sheet in the Premier League this season and they once again conceded as three points became one.
Important summer transfer window for Everton
Walcott’s second Premier League goal of the season failed to mask another unimpressive performance by Everton.
An unspectacular season which featured the sacking of Marco Silva, an FA Cup exit at the first hurdle and 11 defeats in 18 Premier League away games could yet end in Everton’s lowest league finish since 2003-04.
There were strong words from manager Carlo Ancelotti and captain Seamus Coleman following the 3-0 defeat at Wolves on Sunday, when the Toffees mustered just two shots on target.
Against struggling Villa they managed just one. Fortunately for them, it was enough to earn a point.
With the squad lacking inspiration and leadership, Everton are facing another important summer transfer window after failing to secure a place in Europe.
Reports have suggested Everton have made an £18m bid for Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, with midfield an area in need of urgent rejuvenation.
“I don’t want to talk about this because it is unfair to talk about a player who is with another team,” said Ancelotti after the game.
Ancelotti’s side at least started this game with some intensity, Dominic Calvert-Lewin volleying over the bar in the first minute, while Bernard struck the top of the bar with a miscued cross.
Despite Walcott’s late equaliser, which extended his team’s unbeaten home league run to 11 matches, the Toffees look a tired mid-table side lacking ideas following a fourth successive game without a win.
Man of the match – Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton)
Clean sheet problems – the stats
- Villa have conceded more Premier League goals in the final 15 minutes of action this season than any other side (17).
- Theo Walcott has been directly involved in 23 Premier League goals as a substitute (9 goals & 14 assists), the fourth-most in the competition’s history behind Kanu (29), Jermain Defoe (27) and Daniel Sturridge (24).
- Villa have managed just one victory in their last 14 Premier League games on the road (D4 L9), with a current winless run of seven (D3 L4).
- Since his league debut for Aston Villa in January 2017, Conor Hourihane has provided more assists in league competition (including play-offs) than any other Villa player (21).
While Everton play their penultimate league game of the season at Sheffield United on Monday (18:00 BST), Villa host Arsenal on Tuesday (20:15 BST).