Remi Garde says his Aston Villa squad remain united in their bid to avoid relegation from the Premier League as they prepare to face Everton at Villa Park on Tuesday.
Rock-bottom Villa – hammered 6-0 by Liverpool a fortnight ago – were beaten 2-1 by Stoke City on Saturday and remain eight points adrift of safety going into their final 11 games.
While Championship football appears a likelihood for Garde’s side next term, the Frenchman took solace from the improved spirit among his team during a drab contest at the Britannia Stadium.
Garde pointed to a lack of quality and limited options in his post-match analysis but maintains the togetherness in his squad can stave off the drop.
Asked what the mood was like in the dressing room, Garde said: “You can guess, but we all stick together. The players are sticking all together.
“As you can imagine it’s a difficult season for the fans, the players, for me. We have to stay as solid as we can with as much solidarity as we can have.
“There are still 11 games to play. [Saturday’s] results for our direct rivals were not bad for us.
“I always say the same. I’m not looking at our rivals. We can still win enough games to be safe.”
Garde will hope to have Adama Traore (foot), Jack Grealish (ankle), Libor Kozak (ankle) and Carlos Sanchez (hamstring) pushing for a return to his squad while opposite number Roberto Martinez could have Muhamed Besic (hamstring) available after more than a month out
The midfielder’s battle for fitness was aided by Everton’s recent training camp in Dubai, as Martinez seeks to finish the season strongly against the backdrop of boardroom change at Goodison Park following the announcement of Farhad Moshiri’s arrival as a new major shareholder.
With the Iranian businessman set to bring the “promise of new investment”, Martinez could have extra funds to work with come the end of the season.
And the Spaniard told Everton’s official website: “We all know how small the margins are. The final 12 games are extra significant and every point gives you an opportunity to take advantage of the league table.
“The work we have done away [in Dubai] has been with the Aston Villa game in mind and knowing that we are approaching a really important period.
“The way [Villa] start games, they are really strong and fully focused but the goals [they concede] probably have a bigger effect than it does on other teams. They have been unfortunate in many situations.”
Key Opta Stats:
– Romelu Lukaku has scored five goals in four Premier League appearances for Everton against Aston Villa.
– Aston Villa have won just one of the last 10 Premier League matches against Everton.
– Gabriel Agbonlahor has scored seven Premier League goals against Everton, more than versus any other opponent.
– Leon Osman has scored six Premier League goals against Aston Villa, more than versus any other opponent.
– Aston Villa have won just two of their last 14 Premier League matches on home soil.
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