Aston Villa manager Dean Smith says his team can break many more records ahead of hosting Arsenal on Saturday in the Premier League (Aston Villa 17/10, Draw 5/2, Arsenal 5/2 – match odds).
Smith’s side have defied the pre-season expectation that they would be in a relegation fight for the second year in a row by contending for a spot in the top half of the Premier League table.
Villa are ninth on 32 points, one place and one point above Mikel Arteta’s side, but the Midlands outfit do have two games in hand on the Gunners.
When the two teams last met in November, Arsenal were comfortably beaten 3-0, and Villa (5/2 to finish in the top six) are looking to record their first league double in this fixture for 29 years.
Smith’s side have already made an impression on the history books during his tenure, and the former Brentford coach says they can overcome Arsenal (7/2 to finish in the top six), although he expects a more challenging game than the reverse fixture this time around.
He told the Birmingham Mail: “This team has a habit of making history over the last two years to be honest.
“The history breaking run in the championship to get out of there, beating Liverpool 7-2, winning our first four games, winning our first few away games, so let’s hope that habit continues.
“If we perform well, we’ve got every chance, but we have to make sure we perform well. Arsenal are a changed team now they’ve had an upturn of form as well, and they’ve been climbing the league so it’ll be more of an evenly matched game I would have thought tomorrow.”
Smith has no new injury concerns as he weighs up whether to bring Bertrand Traore, Trezeguet and Morgan Sanson back into his team following the midweek lose to West Ham.
Opposite number Arteta will be without suspended duo Bernd Leno and defender David Luiz after their red cards during Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Wolves.
Leno’s absence means either Alex Runarsson or Mat Ryan will start, with the latter hoping to shake off a hip problem to make his debut since he signed on loan from Brighton.