Aston Villa's Paul Lambert says Sunderland is a must-win game

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert says his relegation-threatened side "must win" next week's crunch match against fellow strugglers Sunderland.

Monday's defeat by Manchester United left Villa three points above the drop zone with four games left, three points below the Black Cats.

"We've got to win it," Lambert said. "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."

Villa were beaten by a first-half Robin van Persie hat-trick at Old Trafford in a game that saw United crowned Premier League champions.

Aston Villa's Premier League run-in

  • 29 April: Sunderland (h)
  • 4 May: Norwich (a)
  • 12 May: Chelsea (h)
  • 19 May: Wigan (a)

Lambert's side remain in trouble at the other end of the table but he felt their second-half display showed the progress they are making and feels they are capable of scoring enough goals to stay up.

"It was important we did not capitulate, like we did at Stamford Bridge [when Villa lost 8-0 to Chelsea in December].

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

"We made some really good chances and the attacking players we have got are a definite threat. If we can keep everyone fit and healthy then we will cause teams problems.

"We are getting better and I still think so many things will happen between now and the end of the season in that little group of teams at the bottom of the table.

"We have got a massive game on Monday night and we have to try and win it."