December 26, 2012
Lambert to check on fitness of trio
Team Stat Comparison
|Aston Villa||Tottenham Hotspur|
|Goals for *||1.2||1.9|
|Goals against *||1.5||1.5|
|Last 5 home||L-W-D-L-W||W-W-D-L-W|
|Last 5 away||W-L-W-W-L||W-D-D-W-L|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Aston Villa | Tottenham Hotspur|
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert will assess the fitness of striker Gabriel Agbonlahor, winger Charles N'Zogbia and captain Ron Vlaar ahead of the home Barclays Premier League Boxing Day encounter with Tottenham.
Agbonlahor (thigh) and Vlaar (calf) have missed three and six games respectively while N'Zogbia suffered a knee injury in training ahead of Sunday's 8-0 mauling at Chelsea.
Striker Darren Bent is again ruled out with a hamstring injury while centre-back Richard Dunne will undergo rehab work after a third groin operation.
Lambert has challenged his players to bounce back quickly from their Chelsea humiliation.
Villa's six-game unbeaten run in all competitions was ended in emphatic fashion as they suffered their heaviest defeat in the Premier League.
It brought back painful memories of another Stamford Bridge drubbing - 7-1 during Martin O'Neill's final season in charge two and a half years ago.
But Lambert knows Villa cannot dwell on the events of Sunday as they prepare for the meeting with Andre Villas-Boas' side.
The Scot said: "It can happen. I've been on the end of it before and I'm pretty sure some of their lads would have been on the end of heavy defeats.
"But you have to bounce back and it's about how we react. You can't dwell on it and start feeling sorry sorry for yourselves.
"As a footballer, if you start feeling sorry for yourselves, there is only one place you are going to go.
"It is important that we try and bounce back very quickly. We just never turned up on Sunday and that is the harsh reality of football.
"It's a result that hurts players and fans, absolutely. I don't think anyone saw that coming,
"If you are on not on your mettle, especially at places like Chelsea, then that is what can happen.''
But Lambert stressed: "You can't let one game blight what has happened of late.
"I've said all along that I never get too high when I win and I never get too low when we lose.
"We'd been in really fine form since the game at Sunderland a while back now and our only defeats in 11-12 games before Chelsea had been against the two Manchester clubs.
"Fixtures come thick and fast this time of the year and we only have two days to mull over it and have to go again against Tottenham on Wednesday.
"I am sure whoever plays on Wednesday will atone for that.''
Forward Clint Dempsey is a doubt for Tottenham after he missed Saturday's draw against Stoke with a groin problem.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto may make his long-awaited comeback from a knee injury while Scott Parker could also make his first start of the season after coming off the bench in the last two games following his recovery from an Achilles problem.
Younes Kaboul is expected to return from his knee injury next month.
Tottenham's draw against Stoke at the weekend meant they lost the initiative in the battle for Champions League qualification.
After missing a chance to temporarily move in to third, the Londoners now find themselves in sixth position as they approach the halfway point of the season.
Villas-Boas remains convinced his team can put themselves back in the hunt for Champions League qualification in the next couple of weeks, however, as he embarks on a packed festive schedule that also includes games against Sunderland, Reading and QPR.
"There is still a long way to go,'' the 35-year-old said.
"The festive period is very important. Whenever there is a midweek fixture in the Premier League teams can drop points.''