Aston Villa facing relegation fight, says Lambert ahead of Sunderland game

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert ''Photographer Rich Linley/CameraSport''Football. ''� CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - -
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert ''Photographer Rich Linley/CameraSport''Football. ''� CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - -

PAUL Lambert insists Aston Villa will not become embroiled in another relegation struggle if they carry on playing the way they are.

Villa are five points above the Barclays Premier League drop zone heading into the home game with Sunderland on Sunday and are the lowest scorers in the division with 11 goals from 18 games.

They drew another blank on Boxing Day when losing 1-0 to Swansea but Lambert felt his side deserved at least a point at the Liberty Stadium and believes 13th placed Villa are on the right track to climb the table.

Lambert’s two previous seasons in charge at Villa Park have seen the club finish too close to the relegation zone for comfort - five points on each occasion - but the Scot feels they “will be fine” when they start accepting their chances in front of goal.

“If we keep doing what we are doing and take the chances then we will win more games than not,” Lambert said.

“There will be so many twists and turns throughout the season, but if we keep doing what we’ve been doing we will be fine.

“There are good players like Joe Cole still to come back and if we get everybody fit then we will certainly, the way we are playing, be a match for teams.”

Christian Benteke has managed two goals in his last five games since returning from injury and suspension but Villa have still struggled to score in an eight-match sequence which has brought only two defeats.

They have scored more than once on only two occasions all season and top scorers Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor - who misses the Sunderland game after collecting a fifth booking of the season at Swansea - have a meagre three goals apiece.

“The way we have played over the last few weeks is nothing to do with confidence,” Lambert said.

“If the lads keep doing what they have been doing and creating chances they will go in, as long as they keeping getting into the areas to miss them I will always be happy with them.

“It’s not for the lack of trying. We play football the right way and I cannot ask for any more, other than the score.

“We look comfortable, our movement is good and I was pleased with all of that.

“We have changed a lot over the last three weeks or so and the players have grasped it really well.

“They are enjoying having a lot of the ball rather than chasing it. It’s a new way and hopefully the fans are enjoying it too.

“We will keep going with it as it’s a way of playing I like to see them play and the more they do it the better they will get.

“I think we have found a way that really suits us.”

Sunderland are one point and one place worse off than Villa following their 3-1 home defeat to Hull on Boxing Day and Lambert accepts that the two clubs cannot rely on tradition to remain in the top fliht.

“History tells you in years gone by you have to earn the right to stay in the league regardless how big your name is or how big the club is,” Lambert said.

“Take out that top six big clubs and everybody fights like anything to stay in the league.

“Sunderland for some reason have been down there for the past few years but it doesn’t matter how big the club is, it’s earning the right to stay in it.

“They say get 40 points and see what happens. We have got 20 and last year it took us until January time to get 20, so that’s an improvement.”