Paul Lambert has backed his Aston Villa side to escape from relegation trouble despite seeing them collapse to a 2-1 defeat against Liverpool and remain in the Premier League's bottom three with just seven fixtures left.
Villa looked on course for what would have been a third successive victory after top-scorer Christian Benteke game them a deserved first-half lead but yet again Lambert's side were undone by naive defending, conceding twice in the space of 13 second-half minutes, with Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard capitalising on individual errors from Ashley Westwood and Nathan Baker respectively.
The loss leaves Villa in 18th, behind Wigan on goal difference but having played a game more than Roberto Martinez's side. Next they visit Stoke with away matches at Manchester United, Norwich and, crucially, Wigan to come. "For 45 minutes we were excellent today. We looked a threat every time we went forward and it was disappointing that their [Liverpool] first goal came just two minutes after the restart," said Lambert. "Every game from now on is huge and there's still going to be some twists and turns. What gives me confidence is we don't look like a side that's down there. The belief is there."
Villa's troubles are obvious, with the Midlands side failing to keep a clean sheet since 8 December and, as was again evident against Liverpool, prone to young players making individual errors. Westwood, 22, allowed Henderson to run past him for Liverpool's equaliser while Baker, 21, made a reckless lunge on Luis Suárez that led to Gerrardcelebrating giving his side the lead from the penalty spot. Lambert insists, however, that his players will learn from their mistakes and that he will not abandon his attacking instincts in a bid to steer Villa away from trouble. "I would rather give it a go than not," said the Scot. "I don't want to be one of those teams who try to defend for 90 minutes."
Liverpool, meanwhile, have moved back within three points of Everton in sixth with the manager, Brendan Rodgers, pleased with how his team responded to their 3-1 defeat at Southampton two weeks ago. "For us it was about returning to the form and quality we have shown in the last couple of months," he said. "I thought the players were brilliant. This was a great win for us."