Aston Villa's Trezeguet celebrates scoring their first goal, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pool via REUTERS/Peter Powell
LONDON (Reuters) - Aston Villa moved out of the Premier League relegation zone with one match remaining as Trezeguet’s first-half goal earned them a potentially priceless 1-0 victory over Arsenal on Tuesday.
The Egyptian midfielder blasted home in the 27th minute and it proved enough for Villa to move above Watford on goal difference after they were thrashed by Manchester City earlier.
Arsenal made six changes to the side that beat Manchester City in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final and Villa took advantage to move out of the bottom three for the first time since February.
It was a nervy night at an empty Villa Park with Keinan Davis wasting a glorious chance to make it 2-0 and minutes later Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah headed against the inside of the post.
Villa, promoted last season, hung on for their second victory in three games and now face West Ham United on Sunday sensing an escape that for so long has appeared beyond them.
They have 34 points and a -26 goal difference with Watford also on 34 but with a -27 goal difference. Bournemouth have 31 and could still stay up if they win their last game at Everton and Villa and Watford both lose.
“It was unbelievable, I think it was deserved we were outstanding today,” Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, who was superb throughout, told Sky Sports.
“It’s been a tense day, all we can do is focus on ourselves. It’s up to us what we do on the last day. It feels massive to be out of the relegation zone.”
Trezeguet was one of many signings Villa made after their promotion last season, and the 8.75 million pounds ($11.13 million) he cost might prove to be the club’s most important investment.
He scored both goals when Villa beat Crystal Palace in their last home game and delivered again.
When Conor Hourihane swung over a corner in the 27th minute the ball came out to the Egyptian stationed on the edge of the area and he set himself before hammering a shot past Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez.
Grealish went close before halftime and while Arsenal had plenty of possession after the break they looked flat.
Davis could have settled Villa’s nerves when Grealish played him through but his left-foot shot slid wide.
That miss almost came back to bite Villa when Nketiah’s glancing header struck the inside of the post and rebounded back into the hands of Pepe Reina who kissed the ball.
Arsenal, who failed to have an effort on target, can now finish no higher than eighth and their only route into Europe will be by winning the FA Cup against Chelsea on Aug. 1.
Mikel Arteta’s side could still have a huge say in the relegation battle though when they host Watford on Sunday.