Newcastle v Villa preview: Lambert has firm faith in team
Paul Lambert is happy with Villa's defensive solidity - and now hopes the forwards can fire, as his team face Newcastle on Sunday.
Villa head to Tyneside in 12th position, four points off Sunderland in 18th and nine points away from the Geordies in 9th.
Lambert is not concerned about the precarious position because he believes his attack-minded players will come good and shoot them to safety, hopefully starting at St James's Park.
He also believes the defensive improvements this term - seven clean sheets so far this term compared to five all last season - gives them a good base to attack from.
He said: "The defensive side of things gives you a chance.
"If you can start games on the front foot - and not concede - then it certainly gives you a base.
"One thing about our side is that we can certainly create things.
"We just need a bit of a break in front of goal, where someone takes their chance.
"If you keep a clean sheet then it certainly gives you that base to go and win a game.
"We have been sitting in mid table for months and months. We were way down there last time. No-one thought we would do it.
"So we are in a much stronger position now. Teams would love to be where we are, that's the bottom line.
"The lower half can fluctuate. We just have to keep our head above that.
"The key is that you have to keep your form. If you're down there and you're not winning and you don't look like winning then that becomes a major issue.
"For us, we're playing well enough to win games.
"The Cardiff game, we should have come away with a win there. The goalkeeper has made an incredible save at the end of the game and kept them in it.
"It's not like we're not producing.
"I thought we should have beaten Cardiff. In the second half we were excellent, absolutely terrific.
"We could have won by three or four. It could have been pretty heavy if the keeper wasn't in that form. With a bit of luck we might have got a goal or two.
"I couldn't ask for more from them in that second half."
Villa travel to Tyneside eager for three points and a springboard for the rest of the campaign.
For some strange reason, Villa are far more competent and effective on the road.
Lambert will be eager to improve home performances, of course, between now and the end of the season but for the moment, with a travelling tussle on the horizon, he's simply happy to continue the fine form on foreign soil.
He continued: "I'm looking forward to us playing again because it's been a long week off from action.
"We're going up to a stadium which is a terrific place to play football.
"We have taken 17 points away, which is an incredible amount.
"For some strange reason, we seem really free. We don't set out our stall differently. We try to win every game we play in.
"Whether the expectancy level is not there? We try to play no differently."
Lambert, as always, is looking up rather than down the table, with Alan Pardew's men in his sights.
He is eager to pick up three points up north before a home clash with Norwich the following Saturday.
He added: "If we can win on Sunday we're just six behind them - and people talk about how Newcastle are well up there. It just shows you how this league can change.
"It's always a tough game there. It would be a huge three points.
"It's been strange in terms of their form. The last three games hasn't been like them at all. They have conceded goals. They have not scored any."
Newcastle v Villa
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Paul Lambert has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the trip to St James' Park.
However, the Villa boss did deliver some positive news on long-term absentee Jores Okore.
The Danish defender could be back in a matter of weeks after making speedy progress in his recovery from a ruptured cruciate ligmanent.
However, there is no specific date for Okore's return.
Villa will be wearing their home kit of claret and blue.
Christian Benteke has scored in each of his last two Barclays Premier League games against Newcastle.
The Belgian striker has scored the most headed goals  and has attempted the most headed shots  in the top flight this term.
The last time Villa won at St James' Park - back in April 2005 ] - Newcastle had three players sent off, including Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer for fighting each other.
Hatem Ben Arfa has scored in both of his Barclays Premier League appearances against Villa.
Papiss Cisse scored on his Premier League debut against Villa at St James' Park in February 2012.
Both of the goals from Grant Holt against Newcastle came in the same game, in a 4-2 win for Norwich in December 2011.
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