Saturday 20 January 2018

Lambert eyeing more capital gains

Paul Lambert has told his Aston Villa side they owe it to themselves and their fans to atone for last season's 8-0 humiliation by Chelsea when the teams meet again on Wednesday night.

Villa's capitulation at Stamford Bridge was arguably the lowest point of a difficult campaign as they battled relegation and suffered three bruising defeats around the Christmas period.

That loss at Stamford Bridge was followed by a 4-0 home battering by Tottenham and a worrying 3-0 defeat by Wigan at Villa Park, leaving Villa among the favourites to go down before a resurgence eventually pulled them to safety.

Lambert heads to Stamford Bridge with far more reasons for optimism this time, however, not least following his side's impressive 3-1 win away to Arsenal in Saturday's opening fixture.

The Scot said: "Saturday has gone and you have to look to the one coming up against Chelsea, who are probably one of the favourites to win the title.

"We'll give it a go, like we did on Saturday. All you can ask is that we go down and give a good account of ourselves.

"It's hard to get results against these teams at the best of times but when you're doing it back to back, against Arsenal and Chelsea, it makes it even harder.

"But they're ready for it, confidence is really high after what happened at Arsenal and we'll go down there and give it a right go."

Lambert is not dwelling on their harrowing visit to Chelsea last year but knows they can go some way to making up for it this time around.

"We owe it to ourselves as well to go down there and try to do better," he said.

"Our crowd have been absolutely brilliant. Even after that game they never turned on the lads. That speaks volumes for the supporters.

"Even though the fans were hurt and everybody at the football club was hurt, the supporters were a major catalyst in helping us last year.

"But I don't think about it (the 8-0 defeat) to be honest. I don't look back on it. It's a new season and there are a lot of new lads in the side.

"Chelsea have got a new manager and some new players so it's two totally different teams."

Lambert has taken issue with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger's insinuation that Villa were overly physical in their win on Saturday.

He said: "Have you seen my midfield? They're all about 5ft 4ins. How can they bully anybody? They're footballers. I don't think I've got a dirty player in my side.

"We never bullied anybody. We played hard and fair. We'd never intentionally kick anybody at all. I don't have the players for that and we don't play that way.

"I thought we were excellent football-wise. We were terrific on the counter-attack. I don't buy into that.

"If anybody at the stadium thinks that then they were seeing a different game to the one I was seeing. We played fantastically well.

"Football is a physical game, you've got to be prepared to go into tackles and be prepared to get hurt at certain times but as long as it's not over the top, you've got to be prepared to press people when you can."

Ciaran Clark is set to come into Villa's side in place of the injured Nathan Baker (ankle) while midfielder Yacouba Sylla could return.

Press Association

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