Lambert not panicking over Villa slide

Paul Lambert
Paul Lambert has been unable to lift Villa's form since he joined the club from Norwich in the summer. Photo: PA

Manager Paul Lambert is not pressing the panic button over Aston Villa's slide into the Barclays Premier League's bottom three.

Lambert, whose side meets Arsenal tomorrow, has faith in his young squad and wants them to repeat the level of performance shown in their last home game against Manchester United - a battling 3-2 defeat.

The Scot is not enjoying Villa's predicament but at least retains the backing of the club's fans during what still must be considered a transitional period following two testing years under Gerard Houllier and Alex McLeish.

Lambert said: "The bottom three is not where I want to be, that's for sure. Myself, the club or the fans don't want to be there or near that.

"But I also know the bigger picture and it's not just a quick fix.

"It's the big picture we are trying to rectify.

"It's a results business, something I will never shy away from and the responsibility is mine and what will happen, will happen."

"It's at the end where you will be judged."

He added: "Some of the performances have been very good. We've just not had that break, that little bit of luck to go your way.

"There have not been too many times when I've walked away and been disappointed with the way we've played.

"We've got Arsenal next and, if we can replicate the way we played against Manchester United, we will give them a game.

"The good thing is I've never seen the confidence drain from the players."

Villa supporters have given Lambert their backing, a gesture in stark contrast to the vitriol often aimed at former Birmingham manager McLeish during his season at the helm.

"The fans have been brilliant with me," Lambert added. "I understand it's not where you want to be and the fans have every right to voice their opinion.

"But they have been brilliant with me and all I can ask for is to stick with us.

"It's a brilliant club with a brilliant fan base."

Lambert expects Arsenal to provide a tough test despite their up and down league form and retains massive respect for Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.

He said: "I watched them the other night (against Montpelier) and they are a right good side with some technically gifted footballers.

"They are still a top team and it will be a hard game for us and, as regards Arsene Wenger, there is only Sir Alex Ferguson who has been in it longer.

"Anyone who builds for that length of time, and what he has done, has done an exceptional job."

Villa striker Darren Bent is back in contention for the clash with the Gunners after a three-game absence with an ankle injury.

Bent has returned to training this week after missing games against Sunderland and the two Manchester clubs.

Left-back Eric Lichaj is also available after a leg muscle strain but Joe Bennett, Chris Herd, Charles N'Zogbia (all knee) and Richard Dunne (groin) are still out.