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Agbonlahor: Young guns are stronger after Chelsea rout

Gabriel Agbonlahor said Aston Villa have proved wrong critics who accused them of being too inexperienced after he scored the goals that earned a vital win.

Villa could virtually secure safety if they win against Chelsea on Saturday, which would be sweet after being thrashed 8-0 at Stamford Bridge in December.

Agbonlahor said Villa's players have learned their lesson from the Chelsea thrashing. "We do regret that game as a team," he said. "It was the lowest point, but it is long gone now. We are better players and better characters now.

"The young lads coming through have had some bad things said about them. But they have stood up to the plate and performed."

More experienced heads such as Agbonlahor in attack and Ron Vlaar in defence have been influential.

Agbonlahor has eased the goal-scoring burden on Christian Benteke by scoring six goals in the past seven games to become the club's all-time leading scorer in the Premier League, surpassing Dwight Yorke's tally of 60.

"We have got goalscorers in the team now," he said. "Breaking the record was massive."

The 26-year-old's strikes against Norwich took him on to 12 in all competitions this season. His first came when he surged forward and drove in from 20 yards. After Grant Holt levelled with a penalty, Agbonlahor scored the late winner by rolling in a cool finish.

Defeat left Chris Hughton still unsure of survival. "You have sleepless nights over the results, the team you're going to pick and your form. I go through all the torments. But you have to be big enough and strong enough."

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent