Tuesday 21 October 2014

Lambert preparing for Hull "final"

Published 27/04/2014 | 14:12

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert believes that Premier League survival is still in their hands

Paul Lambert is priming his Aston Villa players for a "cup final" that could secure the club's Premier League status.

The under-pressure manager was far from downbeat following his side's 4-1 defeat to Swansea at the Liberty Stadium yesterday.

He felt his team had performed well for more than an hour before the hosts pulled away with goals from Pablo Hernandez and an injury-time Wilfried Bony penalty.

The heavy loss, which capped a run of only one point from the last 18, left Villa in 16th, only four points above the relegation zone. And with daunting trips to title-chasing Manchester City followed by Tottenham to round off the season, Lambert knows next week's clash with Hull at Villa Park could prove crucial.

"Next week's game is a cup final," he said.

"That's it, in a nutshell."

Villa and Lambert were booed by their travelling support at the end of the game. But Lambert said he will shoulder that criticism and is expecting the claret and blue faithful to be fully behind their team for the crunch game with Hull.

He added: "If you ask any football person - if your destiny is in your own hands, you take it. You don't want to rely on anybody else."

Bony's opener was cancelled out by a well-worked goal from Gabby Agbonlahor as Villa arguably had the better of the first half.

But a stunning 45-yard lob from Jonjo Shelvey was a dagger to the heart. Going into the break 2-1 down, the visitors never recovered.

Nevertheless, Lambert's opposite number Garry Monk believes Villa, like his Swansea side, will beat the drop.

He said: "On this evidence, I think yes. Obviously, they'll be disappointed with the result, but you could see enough fight and quality.

"After the first goal for us, when we went one up, I think for the next 15, 20 minutes they showed what they can do and they had some very good opportunities.

"I think we defended well in that period and stayed in the game, conceded just the one goal which was disappointing, but I can see more than enough for them to survive."

The win further strengthened Swansea's own hopes of survival.

Monk added: "For us, it's been a disappointing season overall. The standards haven't been there, we've been a little bit inconsistent but we want to finish strongly and that's the message we try to put out in the last few games.

"Hopefully, in the next two games we can do that and really finish the season on a positive."

Monk, who was given the interim manager's job after Michael Laudrup was sacked in February, is expecting to speak to the board "soon" about his future.

"Hopefully, very soon," he said.

"Just to clear it up and clarify exactly what their thoughts are for the future. I think that's for the good of the club, the fans, myself, everyone. And I'm sure the chairman thinks that."

Press Association

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