Pivotal day for Nakamba

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Marvelous Nakamba

MARVELOUS Nakamba’s stay in the English Premier League is under threat as his team Aston Villa continue to drop points in the race to escape relegation.

BY HENRY MHARA

The Birmingham side travel to Newcastle United today in a game that could be pivotal to their survival hopes.

Today’s game is one of Villa’s remaining seven matches of the season that they have to win if they entertain any hopes of playing in the Premier League next season.

After the Newcastle game, even more difficult tests await Nakamba and his teammates as they will face Wolves, Liverpool and Manchester United, in their next three matches.

Villa were on a freefall before the league was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, losing five matches on a bounce to drop into the relegation zone.

Their fortunes have not changed on resumption.

While they got away with a 0-0 draw against Sheffield United in their first game on return, they were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea on Sunday, a result which left them 19th, the lowest position they have occupied all season.

But they remain a single point from an equally abject West Ham United.

Coach Dean Smith was hopeful when he said that it would only take a couple of wins to lift Villa out of danger.

Speaking yesterday ahead of the trip to Newcastle, Smith predicted that their survival scrap could go right down to the wire.

“It certainly could do, but I would like to be out of it before the last day. We’ve got to go and win some games to do that,” Smith told the media at a Press conference yesterday.

“Losing didn’t take too many teams away from us, but we gave it our all. The lads put a lot of effort into that Chelsea game and it was a good defensive display as well.

“As I’ve said, we did the debrief after and the lads felt they were always in the game. That’s important because there have been some games where we haven’t.”

Despite dropping five points from the last two matches, Smith is happy with the team’s performance.

“I have definitely seen an improvement with our defensive display, despite what others might say.
“We’ve given away 75% of possession, but only conceded five or six shots on target. That’s a good defensive display and we’re certainly better at that. We created some chances within that.”
Aston Villa haven’t tasted Premier League success since beating Watford at Villa Park in late January.
Their poor form needs to change quickly if Villa are to beat the drop, which will guarantee Nakamba’s stay in the Premier League next season.
The Warriors midfielder joined the club from Club Brugge at the start of this campaign in a transfer that excited many Zimbabweans who were happy to see one of their own playing in a league widely regarded as the best in the world.

Nakamba has generally fared well for his side, where he has been playing regularly, having made 28 appearances in all competitions and the Villa matches are some of the most watched by Zimbabwe football followers.

He was used a second half substitute in the two matches against Sheffield United and Chelsea, but many locals would expect Smith to thrust the 26-year-old into the starting line-up in today’s clash which kicks off at 7pm Zimbabwean time.

Aston Villa’s remaining fixtures

Newcastle (a), Wolves (h), Liverpool (a), Manchester United (h), Crystal Palace (h), Everton (a), Arsenal (h), West Ham (a)