Lambert relishing relegation challenge


Paul Lambert is confident Aston Villa will avoid relegation for a third successive season, despite a start to the campaign that has delivered seven defeats in 12 Premier League matches, leaving them third from bottom ahead of Arsenal’s visit today.

Although the Villa manager admitted that he is uncomfortable with the team’s position he insisted he is relishing the challenge of trying to turn things around.

Lambert said that he was grateful for the backing he has received from the club’s supporters, who chanted his name even when Villa were 5-0 down at Manchester City last Saturday, and he sees no evidence that the players’ confidence has been badly affected by poor results.

Villa are going into a critical period – after taking on Arsenal, Villa host Reading on Tuesday before travelling to Queens Park Rangers four days later.

“The bottom three is not where we want to be,” Lambert said. “It’s not something that I’m used to. But it’s a long-term thing. The thing for me is that the players don’t lose heart and confidence. As soon as you lose that, then it becomes a major problem. I’ve not sensed that one bit.

“When we win games or lose them, I try not to dwell on them. The crowd are with us – you’ve got to keep the crowd on your side.”

There is some good news for Villa, with Darren Bent fit again after spending four weeks on the sidelines, although there is no guarantee the striker will feature against Arsenal let alone start.

“He’s got to give me a problem,” the Villa manager said.

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