Paul Lambert optimistic for Aston Villa's Premier League future

The relegation threatened side lost 3-0 to Manchester United last night

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The Independent Football

Paul Lambert says his relegation-threatened Aston Villa side can kickstart their survival struggle by beating Sunderland next week.

Villa lost 3-0 at Manchester United last night but Lambert insisted his players had been unlucky not to score - and had shown character to prevent United running up a huge score such as the 8-0 thrashing handed out by Chelsea in December.

Lambert is now turning his focus to Sunderland's visit next Monday to Villa Park with his side three points ahead of third-from-bottom Wigan but the Lancashire side have a game in hand.

"Next Monday is a massive game for us," he admitted. "We need to win and we know what we need to do. In football the most important thing is if it is in your own hands and you are not looking at everyone else's results.

"Sunderland are going well themselves but it is an opportunity for us.

"We are at home. We know what we have to do and that's a good thing."

Lambert claimed he had seen enough in his side's performance against Manchester United to give him heart for the relegation run-in.

Robin van Persie's hat-trick came within the first 33 minutes but after that Villa kept United out - and the Dutch striker even headed off the line from Andreas Weimann while Christian Benteke came close on a couple of occasions.

Lambert added: "When the third goal went in I was thinking this could be a long, long night but I could not fault the players at all for the way they kept going.

"The worrying thing was if we capitulated like what happened at Stamford Bridge, and whether psychologically the players who played there would be affected.

"But credit to our players in the second half they came out and we had some really good chances.

"We have proved that especially going forward we are a threat.

"To keep playing the way they are, I couldn't really fault them - they were up against one of the best teams in European football."