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Dec, 28, 2012

Lambert: Villa can learn from thrashings

Paul Lambert believes his Aston Villa novices will become better players as a result of the humiliating defeats suffered against Chelsea and Tottenham.

• Blog: Lack of quality, confidence and bodies

Lambert admits 8-0 and 4-0 embarrassments have left his players at a crossroads ahead of tomorrow's crucial home game against Wigan Athletic.

The Villa manager knows his young squad are faced with a sink-or-swim challenge for the second half of what has been a difficult season, but he has no doubts they will be able to handle the pressure and emerge stronger from the experience of the last two matches.

"They will become better players for it, no doubt. When they look back in their late 20s, they will think 'jeez, I remember getting smashed there.' You do your utmost to try and make sure you don't have that feeling again," said Lambert.

"There are two ways of looking at it. You pick yourself up or you sink. We're certainly not going to go sinking.

"You have to put those barriers up. You take that criticism on the chin. It makes you stronger. There's no hiding from it. It makes you stronger - you think okay, no problem. You go again."

Lambert's side sit three points above the relegation zone ahead of the meeting with Wigan, which the Scot has labelled a "must win" game.

It has been a tough start to life at Villa Park, but Lambert insists on focusing on the positives and believes his squad can move away from the bottom three and that the long-term future for the club is bright.

"We're not sitting bottom. We are not in the bottom three and we're only a few points from mid-table. We want to make a success of this place," he said.

"A more experienced team than we have right now has flirted with relegation the last few years. So it just shows you, you have to earn the right, but I think the future for the club is really good.

"I understand the frustrations. But I can see the bigger picture. I know what we want to achieve. I know we're not a million miles from mid-table. If you hit a little run...

"It wasn't too long ago that we beat Liverpool and everyone was 'Aston Villa this and Aston Villa that.' You are going to take these hits along the way. If you ask most managers, they have been through what we're going through now.

"There are ways to look at it. It's whether you want to be positive or negative about it. I try to be positive. And we will get the team up and running. They will go again on Saturday."

Brad Guzan has called on Villa to show their strength of character in the wake of their embarrassments over the festive period.

Villa's USA international has been left shell-shocked by the dreadful defending which has his team concede 12 goals in their last two Premier League games, and he has called for his team-mates to shrug off the morale-sapping events of the past week.

Guzan is refusing to get too downbeat with the past two results and believes the team has the mental strength and belief to put it behind them.

"We will stick together. That is what this club is all about in terms of what we are trying to do," he said.

"I tried to do my part but at the same time it is about getting results. We are confident in what we are doing as a team and as a club.

"The last two results haven't gone our way but at the same time it is a bump in the road and we continue to move on.

"Just because you have one or two bumps in the road it doesn't change what we are trying to do or the personnel.

"You continue to fight for each other and push each other. You have to stick together and keep fighting. We have to move forward and find a way to get a result against Wigan."

After the 8-0 defeat against Chelsea on Sunday, Lambert called a team meeting to discuss what went wrong.

The problems that were identified showed no signs of abating three days later as Tottenham cruised past Villa with a 4-0 victory, but Guzan does not want to over-hype the meeting with Wigan.

"Every game in this league is a difficult game, regardless of whether it is a top-four team or not," he said.

"You see the top teams lose games, it is just a chance for us to go out and get three points. We have to move forward and we are confident in what we are doing as individuals and as a club.

"We are confident in what the coaching staff and the manager are doing on the training ground. We know there is going to be criticism but at the same time we are confident we can put it behind us. We have to."

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