Aston Villa begin life without Paul Lambert with a chance to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals at the expense of Midlands rivals and fellow Premier League strugglers Leicester City.
The growing sense of anger from the Villa supporters towards their Scottish manager reached its peak in the disastrous defeat to Hull City on Tuesday, as the club slid inexorably into the Premier League’s bottom three. Lambert did a decent job under difficult circumstances amid budgetary cuts, but a lack of progression eventually proved costly.
The supporters will now be hoping that the appointment of Tim Sherwood as Lambert’s successor will instigate changes to the club’s playing style and see them become more of a goalscoring threat. The FA Cup has been a welcome distraction thus far in 2013, and it would be a timely boost to make the quarter-finals.
Lambert’s final league win in charge of Villa came when Leicester visited in December, and their manager Nigel Pearson’s position has itself come under scrutiny in recent days. What is clear is that they desperately need league points if they are to survive, as they now lie five from safety.
The Foxes’ endeavour has perhaps not been adequately rewarded in the last few months, and they were again left to rue their luck after a strong performance at Arsenal on Tuesday. As this is the FA Cup, they can play with a little more freedom, and in Andrej Kramaric they have a striker who could turn the game in their favour.
Sherwood will not be in charge of Villa, who have captain Ron Vlaar back from injury, until the next Premier League game against Stoke City. Leicester are without Matthew Upson while Robert Huth is cup-tied.
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