x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Aston Villa find no cause for alarm despite 8-0 mauling

Paul Lambert may wish to avoid the After Eights this Christmas, but he can take confidence in the fact that a freakish defeat does not often equal relegation, writes Jonathan Wilson.

Paul Lambert, the Aston Villa manager, watches as his side are defeated 8-0 by Chelsea.
Paul Lambert, the Aston Villa manager, watches as his side are defeated 8-0 by Chelsea.

It will take a long time for Aston Villa's wounds to heal after Sunday's 8-0 defeat by Chelsea. Such huge losses are not forgotten in a hurry yet, strangely, the very magnitude of the score line should provide some solace.

This was freakish, a one-off, and history suggests teams that teams who suffer a shellacking are not always doomed to go down.

Wigan Athletic survived a 9-1 hammering at Tottenham Hotspur and an 8-0 defeat at Chelsea in 1999, and Stoke City, Middlesbrough and Manchester City have all been the victims of seven-goal thrashings and avoided the drop from the top flight.

In 1995/96, Nottingham Forest even finished ninth in the league after losing 7-0 to Blackburn Rovers.

"Sometimes you can learn more from a defeat," said the Villa manager Paul Lambert, in admirably phlegmatic mood.

"You don't need to be Einstein to stand there and tell them what went wrong. They know what went wrong. We were well beaten. We were second best all over the pitch. No matter how well you're playing you have to be bang at it and we were well below our standards of late."

Villa rode their luck a little in winning 3-1 at Anfield last week as Liverpool missed a number of decent early chances. At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea scored with their only three chances of the first half.

While they never looked like scoring, Villa could feel a little unfortunate to be 3-0 down at half time.

In the second half, though, they seemed at half pace. There had been no pressure on Cesar Azpilicueta as he crossed and little challenge on Fernando Torres as he put Chelsea ahead, and that diffidence spread.

"There's no magic formula - you just try to win the next game," Lambert said. "It's how you react."

The key is to use the defeat as a reminder of the dangers of sloppiness, to instil a determination that nothing like that should ever happen again, starting with tomorrow's home game against Tottenham.

After losing 5-0 at City, Villa went unbeaten in five games. That alone should persuade them there is no need to panic.

They effectively have a 20-game season against Wigan and Southampton in which they start with a three-point advantage. That, surely, is a winnable race.



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