Aston Villa Focus - Villains must be up for Premier League fight as run-in approaches
Aston Villa have 14 games left of the season to go, and so far it has been a season to forget for the Midlanders. Last season was seen as a disaster by many of the Villa faithful, as the team struggled for goals, confidence and entertainment throughout Alex McLeish's tenure. With the Villains now in 19th place in the Barclays Premier League - significantly worse than their previous campaign - Paul Lambert's revolution looks to be failing.
It has not all been negative for Villa and at times Lambert's boys have looked like they could give a match to any team, but those moments have been fleeting at best, and the errors in defence have been all too common throughout.
Now that Villa are entering the final third of this dismal season, there can be no place to hide for the youngsters assembled by Lambert. He called his squad in for a team meeting this week, suggesting to them that they need to be up for the fight, as he explained to the Birmingham Mail: "We’re in a fight and we have to drive ourselves out of it. We had a chat the other day and they know what they have to do. The effort they are giving is there in abundance. I believe they can do it and they do themselves. We spoke about things and they’ve been pretty positive."
A team that will certainly give Villa a fight is Sam Allardyce's West Ham, as a battle is the least the Hammers boss expects from any side that he has managed during his career. Villa have struggled all season in defence for their lack of height and power, two factors which West Ham certainly are not lacking in. They are currently nine points ahead of Villa in the table, but sit eight places above them in 11th. With Stoke on the same amount of points but only ahead of West Ham on goal difference, it shows what a few wins could do to a team like Villa in their quest for survival.
West Ham started their returning season to the Premier League quite well, which was helped by an opening day victory against Villa at Upton Park. However since their impressive start they have begun to falter, and a victory for Villa on Sunday would put them only six points ahead of the Midlands team, very much in touch with 14 games still to go. It has been at home where Villa have struggled of late, with terrible defensive displays against fellow strugglers Wigan, Southampton and Newcastle leading to losses in all three "six pointer" games in recent months.
If Villa are to stop that pattern of losses, they need to do so fast, and it must start with a win against West Ham this Sunday. Anything less than a win for Lambert's boys, and with a trip to Arsenal and a home tie against Man City shortly after Sunday, relegation will almost seem a certainty to most Villa fans, an outcome which is already looking very likely.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Aston Villa v West Ham