Paul Lambert says Aston Villa face relegation fight
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has urged his side "to fight like hell" in an attempt to drag them out of the Premier League's bottom three.
Villa were beaten 2-1 by fellow strugglers Newcastle on Tuesday - a result that left them in the drop zone.
And Lambert has now admitted after that loss at Villa Park that his side are in a relegation battle.
"We are in a fight, everybody is in a fight, it's all about fighting," Lambert told BBC Radio 5 live.
His side are currently in 18th position on 20 points, below Wigan on goal difference.
Aston Villa's recent league run
- 15 December - Liverpool 1-3 Aston Villa
- 23 December - Chelsea 8-0 Aston Villa
- 26 December - Aston Villa 0-4 Tottenham
- 29 December - Aston Villa 0-3 Wigan
- 1 January - Swansea 2-2 Aston Villa
- 12 January - Aston Villa 0-1 Southampton
- 19 January - West Brom 2-2 Aston Villa
- 29 January - Aston Villa 1-2 Newcastle
And Lambert knows he is under no illusions how desperate the situation is.
"We are going to have to fight like hell to get ourselves out of it," he said,
"We are in a fight like everyone else. You have to fight for it. It's not going to get given to you."
Villa made things tough for themselves on Tuesday, conceding two first-half goals to trail 2-0 at the break. Christian Benteke's penalty gave them hope, but Lambert accepts his side cannot afford to perform like in the first half.
He said: "We paid the price for starting too slowly. We just never got going in the first half. The second half, that's the way to play football.
"But I couldn't fault them for the way they played in the second half. It is the first time I've seen a standing ovation when you've been beaten, especially at home."
The pressure continues to grow on Lambert, who earlier this week received the backing of owner Randy Lerner - who has put more than £250m into the club in just over six years.
But the grim reality is that Villa have now dropped into the bottom three for the third time this season, and have taken only two points from their last seven games.
Former Villa boss Ron Atkinson admits things to not look good for the West Midlands club.
"They are in big trouble," Atkinson told BBC Radio 5 live.
"They don't have any leaders on the field and they are too easy to play against. They need to play a more competitive way and they need to scrap."
Asked whether Villa could survive relegation, Atkinson added: "It's going to be tight, it's going to be touch and go."