Dean Smith claimed that Aston Villa are as likely to stay up as any of their relegation rivals, despite being winless since the return of the Premier League.
After a goalless draw against Sheffield United in midweek, Villa hosted a team whose European ambitions are a little more likely – but despite taking the lead against Chelsea, they lost 2-1.
The result leaves Villa stranded in the bottom three, whereas a win would have lifted them out of the drop zone. However, manager Smith is still hopeful his side can stay up.
“We’re no further away from Bournemouth and the other teams down there,” Smith said. “We’ve got a good enough chance as the other teams down there.
“I’d love to ask more questions [of the opposition], yeah. You’ve got to get the ball off the opposition. We showed a lot of spirit in the last 15 minutes.
“Today, we’ve come up against a top-four team in the last 15-20 years. It was never going to be easy.
“We took the lead and remained hopeful we’d keep the clean sheet. A bit of quality and a little bit of fortune made a difference.”
Both games back so far for Smith’s side have been behind closed doors at Villa Park. And while he insisted that the supporters not being present was not an issue, Smith did accept that their absence gives the officials an easier ride.
“It doesn’t worry me,” he said. “The advantage you lose is at home now is the influence supporters can have over officials. That’s one of the biggest advantages you probably lose.
“The two games we’ve played at home the players have been in the zone, the coaching staff as well.
“We should have won the first game against Sheffield United but for missed chances. We knew it was going to be tough.
“Training sessions have been good, performances have been good.”