Bullish Paul Lambert today insisted his Aston Villa players are not running scared of Manchester City ahead of the showdown with the Premier League champions.
The claret and blues can climb out of the relegation zone with a win over City at Villa Park and achieve back-to-back home victories for the first time since August 2010.
Villa were humbled 5-0 in the reverse fixture at the Etihad Stadium back in November, although an upbeat Lambert claimed his charges will not be intimidated by the prospect of facing City.
“I don’t think we go into any game scared of anyone. We have to take the challenge on. We know how good a side they are but we’re at home and crowd will drive us on as always,” said the Villa boss.
“We’re not going to close our stall up just because it’s Manchester City because you think you are going to get beat. You have to try to win the game.
“The players have to embrace it, if you go the other way you will be frightened by it and there's no reason to be frightened by it.
“I think someone would have said that same thing to Southampton who beat City. On any given day you do that and win a football match against anybody.
“Over the course of the season you might not be able to match it but on a given day you can win a football match.
“We have to go into it as if we can win it, there’s no point in playing otherwise. We’re certainly playing well enough to cause them trouble.”
Lambert also admitted his principle motivation for avoiding the drop was personal pride rather than the financial importance to Villa.
“I think the finances in the Premier League are vast and everyone wants to be in it. I don't know whether you want to be in because of the finances but everything is fantastic here,” added the Scot.
“The club has been in and around it (the relegation zone) for three years. It's nothing new to it. I think you have to look forward.
“You have to keep believing what you are doing is right and I'll never deviate from that.”
Meanwhile, Villa will check on the fitness of Darren Bent (foot) and Ron Vlaar (calf) ahead City’s visit this evening. Shay Given will take his place on the bench after he recovered from a groin problem.