Express & Star

Analysis: Aston Villa need one final push to bring European nights back

After weeks poring over all possible permutations of the Premier League run-in, the equation for Villa is now wonderfully simple.

Aston Villa's Jacob Ramsey scores

Beat Brighton next Sunday at Villa Park and a return to European competition for the first time since 2010 will be secured.

Should Brentford and Tottenham both fail to win their fixtures against Leeds and Manchester City respectively, a draw is all Unai Emery’s team require to give their fantastic charge through the second half of the season the finish it surely deserves.

For much of Saturday afternoon, as Villa led at Liverpool, it appeared a point against the Seagulls on the final day would be good enough regardless of results elsewhere.

Roberto Firmino’s 89th-minute equaliser made the challenge a little tougher, while also denying Emery a win which would have gone straight in as new No.1 on the lengthy list of impressive triumphs since his arrival last November.

Yet the draw still meant that, for the first time, Villa’s fate in the race for Europe is definitively in their own hands. Take care of business in what will be the most important occasion at Villa Park since the visit of Arsenal during the Great Escape three summers ago and there is nothing anyone else can do about it.

The final step is typically the toughest but anyone watching Villa at Anfield would struggle to bet against Emery’s men seeing the job through.