Paul Lambert hopes relegation battle is a one-off for Aston Villa

Villains boss does not want a repeat of the current campaign

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert regards this season as a steep personal learning curve and the sort of thing he does not want to go through again - although he does feel the experience may well have made him stronger.

Following his defection from Norwich last summer, Lambert has overseen a Villa team of limited previous Barclays Premier League experience featuring lots of players in their early 20s, and the midlands outfit have struggled towards the bottom end of the table for most of the campaign.

With two games to go, though, they appear destined for safety, lying 13th on 40 points, five clear of 18th-placed Wigan.

And reflecting on the season, Lambert said ahead of his side's Saturday lunchtime home clash with third-placed Chelsea: "I've learned a lot this season but I don't want to go through it again.

"Let's cross the line first and foremost. But sometimes you have to go through these things to make yourself stronger."

Villa followed up their 6-1 thrashing of Sunderland by triumphing 2-1 at Norwich last Saturday and they have won five of their last eight matches.

Lambert said: "We're in terrific form and in a good position - on Saturday we were three points off ninth!

"All credit to the team for the results they have produced in the last few months. The results have been outstanding.

"Everyone wrote them off and had a go at them. But the football we're playing is really good."

All the rest of the weekend's Premier League action takes place on Sunday, when various teams in the bottom half will be eager to try to extend the gap between themselves and Wigan, who play Manchester City in Saturday's FA Cup final.

Among them are Newcastle, currently 17th on 38 points and without a win in their last four games.

They are at relegated QPR at 3pm, and club captain Fabricio Coloccini told the Magpies' official website: "If we do the right things, do our job, it's going to be finished.

"We have to do our job and then try to think about next season because Newcastle have to be in the Premier League."

Level on points with Newcastle and playing at the same time are 16th-placed Norwich, who face West Brom at Carrow Road, and 15th-placed Sunderland, hosts to a Southampton team who are only one point and one position better off than them.

Twelfth-placed Fulham, on 40 points, welcome Liverpool to Craven Cottage, while the other 3pm kick-off sees Manchester United-bound David Moyes in charge of his last Everton home match as the Toffees take on West Ham.

Current United boss Sir Alex Ferguson's final Old Trafford game before he retires this summer gets under way at 4pm, with Swansea the visitors, and the day's other fixture, in which fifth-placed Tottenham will be looking for a win at Stoke to take them above out-of-action Arsenal into the Champions League spots, has a 1.30pm start.

PA

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