Two losses to both of the Manchester clubs may well have been expected for most Villa fans, but a place in the relegation zone this season was certainly not. Unfortunately for Paul Lambert those two games without a point have led to exactly that, and now the pressure will be on for Aston Villa to get out of the bottom three as soon as possible.
In the next 14 days following the Arsenal match, Aston Villa face struggling Reading on the 27th, then a trip to winless QPR on the 1st of December, and finally another home game against Stoke on the 8th. It will be a bonus if Villa can get anything from an Arsenal team looking very much on form at the moment, following their very impressive 5-2 victory in the North London derby last weekend with an equally impressive 2-0 win against French side Montpellier in the Champions League on Wednesday. It will be the three games after this Saturday’s fixture that will provide the crucial tests for Villa this season. If they are to survive in the Premier League, they must beat fellow relegation candidates Reading on Tuesday night, and at least get a point away to QPR the following weekend. If they achieve this, a home game against Stoke City on the 8th December does not look as daunting as if they were to lose, and with Stoke also not reaching the heights of previous seasons, it could well mark a defining period in Villa’s season.
If they were to lose any of those fixtures after Arsenal, then Paul Lambert will have a huge task in keeping this once great team in the Barclays Premier League for the start of the 2013/2014 campaign. In the run up to Christmas, Villa face very tough away matches against Liverpool and Chelsea, and an equally difficult home match against AVB’s Tottenham side.
The pressure that Lambert will begin to face must not be transferred to his very young Villa side, and he does have some welcome news on the injury front. Ciaran Clark has been one of the stand-out performers for Aston Villa this season, and although his return against Manchester City was not hugely impressive, it will at least give Lambert options as to who he picks in his defence for the upcoming fixtures. His options may be boosted further by the return to full training of Richard Dunne, who is now only a week or so away from returning to the Villa first team. With Darren Bent and Charles N’Zogbia also progressing well with their respective injuries, Lambert will at least have options for the crucial, busy Christmas schedule ahead.
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