Paul Lambert has warned Chelsea they are coming up against an Aston Villa side unrecognisable from the one who suffered an humiliating 8-0 thrashing at Stamford Bridge in December. The teams meet again at Villa Park on Saturday, with Lambert's players in a rich vein of form and determined to pick up the victory that would guarantee their Premier League status for another season.

The rout at Stamford Bridge, the club's heaviest top-flight defeat, started a highly damaging run of results for Villa. They went eight Premier League games without a win and also lost to Bradford in the League Cup semi-final and Millwall in the FA Cup. The turnaround in the past two months has been remarkable, with Villa picking up 16 points from their past eight games to climb to 13th in the table.

"To be fair to Chelsea, that game [at Stamford Bridge] – it could have been more and that's the reality of it. Brad Guzan made some great saves," Lambert said. "But the team has bounced back incredibly. We're a different team now to what we were then. There has been a massive improvement in the way that we've played, the belief and the confidence has been really high. Against the teams around about us, in the games we've had to win, we've produced. I think that's been a big, big factor in where we are at the minute."

Lambert said he was also grateful for the support he received from the Villa board in a rollercoaster first season. Despite Villa's dismal form at the turn of the year, the manager's position never came under threat, with Randy Lerner, the club's owner, and Paul Faulkner, the chief executive, steadfast in their backing for the man they brought in to replace Alex McLeish last summer. "I think the support from Randy has always been there, that's the big thing," Lambert said.

"But all I could have done was my best when I came here. If Randy and Paul had decided to make the change, there is nothing I could have done. I gave it my best to try and turn it around and thankfully they've stuck with it. They've been really good. When you get support from the people at the top, the owner, then it certainly helps you."