Soccer-Villa will go 'hell for leather' to beat Chelsea, says Smith

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FILE PHOTO: Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa

BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - Aston Villa will go "hell for leather" for a victory that could cost Chelsea a place in next season's Champions League when the sides clash at Villa Park on Sunday, manager Dean Smith said.

Victory for Chelsea on the final day of the season will seal third place in the Premier League, but anything else could mean they are overtaken by Liverpool and Leicester City.

Chelsea are unbeaten away since German coach Thomas Tuchel took charge in January.

"He's had a great start. They qualified for the FA Cup final, Champions League final and now they're trying to qualify for the Champions League via the top four," Smith said.

"He's come in and done exactly what he's been asked to do so far. Now it's our job to put an end to their away record.

"We'll be going hell for leather to try and do that."

Villa have struggled in the second half of the season but with 10,000 fans back for the finale, Smith hopes that they can crown an encouraging season in style.

They enjoyed an impressive 2-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, a game in which midfield playmaker Jack Grealish made his first start for three months after injury.

"I expect the attitude and mentality we showed at Tottenham," Smith said. "The players know what our supporters expect and what they want to see."

On Grealish's return, Smith added: "He's getting up to full fitness, he showed a real confidence in his performance at Tottenham and hopefully we will see more of that on Sunday."

Villa will finish 11th, which is a huge improvement on last season when they escaped relegation on the final day with a draw against West Ham United.

"To finish 11th, which is where we will finish now, is an improvement of six places and that's with only bringing five players in," Smith said.

"I'm very pleased, in general, with how the players have performed and improved. That will continue."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)