Paul Lambert: We owe Aston Villa fans a win
Villa will be sent out to re-energise their Premier League season against Crystal Palace on Boxing Day – and offer a festive special for long-suffering fans.
With the smallest home goals total in the Football League, Villa Park football has become an ordeal for fans whose team continue to reserve their best performances in away games.
Despite a third consecutive defeat at the weekend, manager Paul Lambert reckons his team's greater urgency in the 2-1 reverse at Stoke signalled a step forward.
"It is still disappointing to lose but there's a way to lose," Lambert argued after watching that defeat add to setbacks against Manchester United and Fulham.
"The last two games prior to this one weren't good enough but I can't fault the effort we gave. I don't think we deserved to lose Saturday's game.
"Sometimes you think: 'OK, we gave a right good account of ourselves' and we never deserved to lose in strong conditions but as long as you don't feel sorry for yourselves you pick yourself up.
"If we start the game at home the way we did here, we will be on the front foot. That was what was lacking in the last two games.
"To be fair, we started the United game well and faded after the goals. The Fulham match, we never got going the whole game. That one, we certainly did. That was more like it. I thought we were well in the game."
Lambert knows that the visit of Palace, permanent bottom three residents so far but reviving under new manager Tony Pulis, brings a focus to the tipping point of Villa's season.
Palace could move within three points of Villa were they to win and that would set alarm bells ringing ever more loudly as Lambert's team face up to more football without Christian Benteke.
Referring to the mini slump he admits: "You have to try and put a stop to it as quick as you can.
"You look at that mid-table, there is absolutely nothing in it. One win catapults.
"Palace's form has improved but that's what happens sometimes when a new manager comes in, you get that initial lift and then things like that can happen. Tony knows that, he has made Stoke City the club it is today.
"We have to win - it will be a cracking crowd there, Boxing Day and we have to go and win."
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