Monday 18 December 2017

Whipping by Spurs means nothing to Aston Villa youngsters, insists Lambert

Phil Medlicott

ASTON Villa boss Paul Lambert insists his young team will be fine as they try to move on and find a positive response after suffering two successive hammerings over the festive period

Lambert's side went into their Stephen’s Day home clash with Tottenham looking to bounce back from their demoralising 8-0 defeat at Chelsea three days earlier, only for Jermain Defoe's 14th club goal of the season and Gareth Bale's first Barclays Premier League hat-trick to see Spurs run out comfortable 4-0 winners.

Things are looking worrying for Villa, who lie 16th in the table - three points above the relegation zone.

Their manager is adamant the mood in the camp will not be an issue, though, ahead of Saturday's crunch encounter with 18th-placed Wigan at Villa Park.

"They will be fine," Lambert said.

"Whether we win, lose or draw, we always try to treat them the same way and try to keep their spirits the same.

"One thing in football is that you can't dwell on it and you have to bounce back - there is no other way."

Bale was the undoubted star of the show as Tottenham ran Villa ragged, the winger twice going close to netting in a goalless first half before following up Defoe's 57th-minute opener by converting in the 61st, 73rd and 84th minutes to give the scoreline a look that more accurately reflected the visitors' dominance throughout the contest.

It took the 23-year-old Wales international - scorer of a famous Champions League treble against Inter Milan in 2010/11 - to 10 club goals for the current campaign, and Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas afterwards hailed Bale as one of the world's best players.

The Portuguese said: "He is up there with the best.

"He is showing tremendous skills and talent. I think he is improving every day - he is such a young player - and he is helping the team. He is one of our major assets.

"His personality is wonderful. He is going through an excellent moment of his professional and personal life, and we are benefiting from that."

Asked if he thought Bale could get even better, Villas-Boas - who has stressed his confidence the player will not leave Tottenham in the January transfer window - said: "I think so. You always expect that the team can make an individual even better.

"The team changes so much from one year to another, and as he keeps learning, he will feel even better and probably his performances will improve."

The result ensured Tottenham kept up their push for Champions League football, moving them up to fourth - level on points with fifth-placed Everton and sixth-spotted West Brom, who both also won yesterday.

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