Wigan Athletic-Aston Villa Preview
By TOM BENNETT
STATS European Football Writer
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - Aston Villa will have a point to prove when they welcome Wigan Athletic to Villa Park on Saturday afternoon.
Villa (4-6-9) conceded 12 goals in their two disastrous Christmas fixtures, losing 8-0 to Chelsea before succumbing 4-0 to Spurs on Boxing Day. However, Paul Lambert's side had gone five unbeaten prior to those matches, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan - who recoreded as many saves as goals allowed in those two defeats - is sure the manager's approach is the right one despite the recent downturn.
"It's a bump in the road but it doesn't throw us off the track," said Guzan after the defeat to Spurs. "We know what we're trying to do here. We're still confident as a team and as individuals and confident about where the manager and his coaching staff are taking us. We keep looking forward and moving together and sticking together.
"Every game in this league is difficult. For us, we have to take it on the chin and move on. You can't dwell on it too much. You have to find a way to keep moving forward. We just continue to try and get better. That's what it's all about. It's not a result that we or the fans want to see but at the same time we will keep moving forward."
Villa's porous defence conceded 47 shots in the last two matches, with 26 finding their way on frame. The Villains had only one shot on goal in each match.
Visitors Wigan (4-3-12) have picked up just one point in their last six league games, but were unlucky with decisions in their two Christmas fixtures.
"I'm frustrated and angry, it is a moment of the season where results are starting to be very important," said gaffer Roberto Martinez after a 2-1 defeat to Everton that saw the Toffees get away with committing what appeared to be a clear penalty. "We knew we were coming to a difficult place but the way we played the first half, I thought we stopped them from having any momentum. We were starting to get into a good position to get a positive result and actions in both boxes cost us.
"We need to make sure we don't rely on third parties - we don't rely on decisions to get positive results. We will learn from it. It is not good enough just to play well in the Premier League, whichever ground you are playing at. If we need to play extra well to get a positive result, that is what we have got to do."
Villa have doubts over Andreas Weimann (calf), Nathan Baker (hamstring), Charles N'Zogbia (knee) and Darren Bent (hamstring), while Gabriel Agbonlahor (thigh), Ron Vlaar (calf), Gary Gardner (knee), Richard Dunne (groin) and Stilyan Petrov (leukaemia) are out. Wigan have doubts over Albert Crusat (knee) and Antolin Alcaraz (groin), but Ryo Miyaichi (ankle), Ben Watson (broken leg) and Adrian Lopez (hamstring) are out.
Only the bottom two clubs have fewer wins at home this season than Villa (two), while Lambert's side have managed just eight goals in nine games on their own patch - a league low.
Wigan have lost seven of their nine away games and have managed just six goals on the road, better than only West Ham.
Last season's 2-0 defeat at Villa Park was Wigan's first at the ground since their return to the Premier League. The Latics had managed three wins and three draws in the six previous visits.
Updated December 27, 2012