Wigan v Villa preview: Lambert - We have a job to finish
Villa could charge up the table with a win over Wigan - and Paul Lambert thinks that a higher league position would be only right for his emerging aces.
Boss Lambert bases that on the form his team have shown over the past few months, with wins over the likes of West Ham, Reading, QPR, Stoke, Sunderland and Norwich paving the way for survival.
Asked if a move away from the lower reaches would be a fairer reflection of their season, he said: "Absolutely in terms of the way we have been playing, yes.
"Anyone looking at our football, we never looked like a team that were panicking and launching the ball into the penalty box and hoping for the best.
"We played some unbelievable football in games.
"The lads have been a credit to the club, the way they have turned it around.
"We want to try and get up that table as best we can. We have an opportunity to win a game of football and try to jump a few places.
"It's only Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool that have beaten us.
"We might have got a result against Chelsea without the decisions. Against Arsenal I thought we were extremely unlucky at the Emirates.
"I don't care who you were against Man Utd that night, they were on absolute fire.
"We got caught by a mistake against Man City. Liverpool won it with a penalty but we were well in the games other than Man Utd. Our form against everyone else has been unbelievably high."
Fans have been celebrating all week since survival was guaranteed.
But Lambert stresses it's been a serious week of preparation and planning at Bodymoor as Villa get set for the Latics test.
He knows there will be a carnival atmosphere off the field, with supporters wearing Stan Petrov masks.
But he demands effort and enthusiasm on the pitch as he craves the win that would ensure a much healthier league placing.
He continued: "We won't go up there thinking the whole thing is done and dusted. We have 4,000 people coming to watch us.
"We want to finish as high as we can. Whether it happens you don't know.
"But we have an opportunity to jump a few places.
"I'm never one to just rest and think 'job done.' You have to look forward. Sunday is a game to try and win.
"It's certainly not finished.
"This occasion with Stiliyan on the final day will be great. But the fans will be going up there wanting us to win. That's what we will try and do.
"The occasion for Stiliyan on Saturday was outstanding. The feeling of it was fantastic. I feel the whole club is moving the right way. That was some send-off for someone who is really popular."
Lambert accepts, too, that it could be a downbeat affair for the opposition, having replaced the highs of cup glory with the lows of relegation.
But he wants his team to focus on their own destiny and get the job done.
He added: "You just look after yourselves. I know we will have a fantastic following. We have to try and win it. You don't slack off.
"You don't want it to become one of those games where it's a carnival. We have a job to do. We want to try and win.
"We have come a long way since that home defeat over the festive period, too. They beat us really convincingly that day.
"But the team have matured, got stronger and they have the belief."
Wigan v Villa
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Matt Lowton [thigh] and Karim El Ahmadi [groin] could both be involved against the Latics.
Paul Lambert has spoken positively about their chances of playing a part at the DW Stadium.
Ciaran Clark [foot] and Christian Benteke [suspension] are both out of the game.
Callum McManaman [ankle] misses out after coming off in the 4-1 loss at Arsenal.
But wing-back Jean Beausejour [hamstring] is set to return.
Villa will be wearing their home kit of claret and blue.
Villa have won 26 of their 40 points (65%) against the other sides in the bottom half of the Premier League table this season.
Only against Everton (seven) has Gabriel Agbonlahor netted more Premier League goals than versus Wigan (five).
The last Wigan win over Villa at home was a 3-2 Premier League victory in April 2006.
Wigan have failed to win any of their last six home games in the Premier League against Aston Villa (D2, L4).
Gabby Agbonlahor has scored six goals and assisted one more in his last eight Premier League appearances.
Go to full match coverage for Wigan 2 - 2 Aston Villa (17th May 2013) >
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