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Mar 11, 2013

Lambert: We've blown survival fight open

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert feels his side have blown the relegation scrap wide open with their victory at Reading, dragging other teams into the battle for survival.

Lambert has consistently refused to accept that only five teams are involved in the struggle to retain Premier League status.

With nine games remaining, Villa are six points adrift of tenth-placed Fulham thanks to Gabriel Agbonlahor's winner at the Madejski Stadium, and the manager believes that result will have left more clubs looking nervously over their shoulders.

And he said their next fixture - a crunch clash with Queens Park Rangers at Villa Park - would provide another opportunity to increase the pressure on the teams above them.

"What our win does is bring teams above us into it as well. If you look up to 12th or 13th place, there's not much in it and there's still nine games to go. There are still big games to come," Lambert said.

"I think there will be a lot of changes throughout the coming games. We've pulled a lot of teams back into it and we're playing well at the minute, so I'm extremely happy with that. We have momentum.

"I've looked at everybody's fixtures and there's so many hard games coming up - including the ones we've got ourselves - but we've put ourselves in a position where we're in a fight with seven or eight other teams."

Lambert also lavished praise on his goalkeeper Brad Guzan, insisting he would not swap the America international for anyone else.

Guzan has been one of Villa's most consistent performers since Lambert made him first choice ahead of Shay Given and the manager said: "He's been absolutely colossal for the football club.

"I wouldn't swap him. He's a really good guy as well, which is important. He's always bubbly and is a good character. Shay has been terrific for us in the cups. The two of them are top-class goalkeepers.

"I think if you make the call [to pick Guzan in favour of Given] then Brad's got to go in there and do it. Brad has made some massive saves for us in big moments, and he's been a credit to the club."

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