Aston Villa lose again to cap awful year
Under-pressure Paul Lambert has vowed to keep Aston Villa in the Premier League despite the club suffering three successive defeats and conceding 15 goals.
Villa's latest setback came when they were beaten 3-0 at home by fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic, a defeat that saw them slip to fourth from bottom, just one spot above the relegation zone.
"I always knew it was going to be a massive job at Villa. It is a massive football club with a great tradition," said Lambert.
"This club has been in a survival battle for the last couple of years. I will speak to the chairman to see what is happening in regard to bringing in some new players. But I have a belief that Aston Villa will be fine."
Only a last-minute Stoke equaliser against Southampton kept Villa out of the relegation places and Lambert said: "The last three results have certainly hurt us.
"Everyone was positive after the Liverpool win [3-1 earlier in this month] but there is now a negativity after these three defeats."
Goals from Ivan Ramis, Emmerson Boyce and Arouna Kone ensured Villa went scoreless in a third consecutive defeat, after losing 8-0 to Chelsea and 4-0 to Tottenham Hotspur.
The victory was a boost for Wigan, the northern club having lost five and drawn one of their last six Premier League games.
Spanish central defender Ramis made a perfect return from injury with a headed goal past Brad Guzan for the visitors after just two minutes.
Villa were in the ascendancy at the end of the first-half and early in the second period, with Belgian Christian Benteke in particular causing problems.
But the home side were the ones to relent, conceding a brace in the 52nd and 56th minutes.
First, Boyce struck home past Guzan after a neat one-two with Kone, and then the Ivory Coast international was on hand to finish off any home hopes.
Picking up a through ball from Argentine striker Franco di Santo, Kone rode Mathew Lowton's weak challenge to round Guzan and slot home from a tight angle into an empty net.
Kone could have made it four for Wigan 20 minutes later but he failed to control a huge kick from his keeper, Ali al-Habsi, that cleared the hapless Villa defence.
The result left Villa with just six wins in 38 Premier League games in the calendar year, equalling their record number of 18 league losses, set in 1994 and 1999.