Aston Villa Women’s debut season in the Women’s Super League comes to a close on Sunday afternoon as they face Arsenal at Boreham Wood.
Despite a run of four consecutive draws, Villa’s future hangs in the balance with their fate set to be decided on the final matchday.
Marcus Bignot’s side are currently 11th in the table, level on points with Birmingham City who had a point deducted for playing a suspended player in their draw against Reading in April.
Bristol City are bottom, just a point behind their relegation rivals and Matt Beard’s side will be hopeful of pulling off a miracle and surviving the drop when they face Brighton on Sunday.
Regulation and Discipline update on @BCFCwomen pic.twitter.com/0rGeCDMd8N— FA Spokesperson (@FAspokesperson) May 7, 2021
What do Villa need to do to stay up?
On paper, the Villans’ hopes of staying up are very much in their own hands as any positive result against the Gunners will be enough to secure top-flight football next season.
Regardless of whether Bristol City beat Brighton, a draw will ensure their safety as Villa’s goal difference is far superior.
The problem would be if City beat Brighton and Villa lose to Arsenal, that would take Beards’ side above the Midlands club in the table.
Birmingham City remain in the conversation after their points deduction, but their goal difference means they would need to lose, Villa at least draw and Bristol City win for them to be relegated.
The last meeting
Villa last met Arsenal in February after their first meeting was postponed on numerous occasions due to COVID outbreaks and unplayable pitches.
A positive first half performance was quickly undone as four goals after the break earned Joe Montemurro’s side a comfortable victory.
With four different goalscorer on the day, Vivianne Miedema, Jordan Nobbs, Katie McCabe, and Lisa Evans, Villa will have plenty to do on Sunday to keep the Arsenal attack at bay.
One last push tomorrow & we’re more than ready for it pic.twitter.com/dUVIFe73VL— Freya Gregory (@FreyaGregory11) May 8, 2021
Villa have drawn their last four games, in a run that includes two 0-0 draws against West Ham, a 2-2 draw against Bristol City, and a 1-1 draw in the second-city derby against Birmingham City.
Bignot’s side put themselves in a strong position to win the ties against Bristol and Birmingham City, but stoppage time equalisers led to a frustrating situation for the Villans; had they won just one of those games, their WSL status would already be confirmed.
Arsenal secured European football for next season after they beat Everton 2-1 last weekend and the Gunners last dropped points in the league against Chelsea on February 10.
A difficult test to end the season
Villa’s record against the top sides this season is a concern when the stakes are so high, especially as a result might be necessary if they’re to survive the drop.
They’ve suffered some heavy scorelines, which includes a 6-0 defeat to Everton and a 7-0 loss at the hands of Manchester City, so a result against Arsenal is a tough ask.
But with so much on the line, there’s potential for an upset and there’s no better time for this Villa side to push a top WSL team to the wire.