x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Villa must dig themselves out of a mess

Winger Albrighton says team have the quality to turn season around and stem the rot after four defeats in five games as they take on Man City and Chelsea next.

Aston Villa are in a "bit of a mess" according to winger Marc Albrighton, who has called on his teammates to pull together and halt their poor run of form that sees them slipping towards the Premier League relegation zone.

Things do not get much easier, however, for Albrighton and Co. After being beaten by Tottenham Hotspur at home on Sunday, they as travel to second-placed Manchester City today, who have a chance to go top of the table, for a few hours at least, with victory.

And on Saturday they travel to champions Chelsea.

Villa slumped to a fourth defeat in five Premier League matches with with that 2-1 loss against a Spurs side that played for more than an hour with 10 men.

These are troubled times for Villa and manager Gerard Houllier. With Villa 15th and just four points above the relegation zone, there lurks a very real prospect they could be in the bottom three come their next home game with Sunderland in eight days' time.

That is a stark contrast to last season when they were outside contenders for a Champions League place.

For a young player such as Albrighton, in his first full campaign with the club, it is a steep learning curve. But displaying creditable maturity, the 21-year-old knows exactly what is required of himself and those around him in the weeks and months ahead.

Asked if Villa were embroiled in a relegation battle, Albrighton pulled no punches as he said: "We have to look at it and think 'yeah, it is'. The table doesn't lie.

"Against a lot of teams we've played well and created chances, but we've not tucked them away, and we've leaked goals at the back we probably shouldn't have.

"That's why we are down there. If you don't win games then you are going to be down there, and we have to do something about that.

"It's going to be tough to get out of it, but there's nobody who can put that right other than the players. We've got ourselves in a bit of a mess, and we just need to pull together to get ourselves out of it. It's been a bad run, but there is nothing we can do about it now, we just have to look to the next game and hope to pick something up.

"The next two games are obviously massive, but then every game we play from now until the end of the season is going to be like that."

Despite his age and inexperience, Albrighton knows he has to look within himself to help Villa, rather than rely on the older heads around him to pull him through such a situation.

"We know we've quality in the dressing room," added Albrighton. "The older players have to play a part, but then there's nobody out there who doesn't deserve to be playing, so everybody on that pitch needs to pull their weight.

"We can't pass responsibility. Every one of us has to take on that responsibility. Against Manchester City we just have to pull our socks up and get stuck in again.

"We're going there with not a lot to lose. People are going to be expecting us to get done over, but from our point of view, we are going there to win a football game.

"No matter who is in front of us, it's 11 v 11 out on the pitch, and we have to win this game."

With leaders and local rivals Manchester United playing in today's late game, City, who welcome back centre-half Kolo Toure after a ban, can go top of the table for a few hours with victory.

7pm, Abu Dhabi Sports 5