‘It’ll be tough, but we’ve beaten Sunderland before’ – Aston Villa’s Agbonlahor calls for unity

Aston Villa's Gabby Agbonlahor (left) and Swansea City's Jonathan De Guzman (right) during the Barclays Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham.
Aston Villa's Gabby Agbonlahor (left) and Swansea City's Jonathan De Guzman (right) during the Barclays Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham.
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TOGETHER will help Aston Villa come through the tough run they are experiencing – and defeat Sunderland – according to striker Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Villa face Sunderland at home on New Year’s Day, with the hosts eager to gain three points and clamber out of the relegation zone.

Villa left the field to boos once more on Saturday after holding on for a 1-1 draw against Swansea to bring to an end a sequence of four straight defeats.

“We are a team,” said Agbonlahor, who is captaining the side in the absence of injured defender Ron Vlaar.

“Through the good times and the bad, and as long as we stay as a team, then we will be okay. That was just to show the staff and the players we are all in it together. We know it’s going to be a fight. But we are up for it.

“We might not be showing the best quality at times but if we give 100 per cent and fight, then we will be fine.”

Villa’s New Year’s Day trip to Sunderland comes after a good Christmas for the Black Cats, buoyed up by defeating Everton and staging a late comeback to draw at Cardiff.

Lambert hopes one or both of Christian Benteke or Vlaar might be back, and Agbonlahor is taking confidence from Villa’s 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light last season.

He said: “We know it’s going to be tough, they’ll look at us and think they can get at us. But we beat them there last year, so there’s no reason why we can’t do it again.”

At Swansea, Agbonlahor scored the opening goal in the seventh minute – the first time Villa have scored in the first half of any league game at Villa Park this season – but Roland Lamah equalised before half-time.

Swansea had more then 70 per cent possession and in the second half Villa struggled to break out of their own half.

Villa’s goal celebration was designed to make a point, with the whole team running to the bench and forming a jubilant huddle.

One man not included was manager Paul Lambert, who is under fire from the fans but still has the backing of chairman Randy Lerner.

Agbonlahor explained: “You can’t do that to him. That’s why he only got a high five. He’d have hammered me for that.”

Villa’s poor run reached a nadir on Boxing Day when an injury-time Dwight Gayle goal earned Crystal Palace victory at Villa Park.

So, although it certainly was not pretty, Agbonlahor stressed avoiding defeat had to be the priority against Swansea.

He said: “We wanted to stop losing. You can say we might be disappointed not to win the game, going a goal up, but we have to take the positives out of it and take the point. It all goes on the table.

“In the Palace game we were disappointed because, although we might not have been good enough to win that game, we shouldn’t be losing it.

“That’s what we did (against Swansea). We didn’t really deserve to win the game. That’s a good Swansea team. I thought they were outstanding in the way they passed the ball.

“But it was a case of, if we weren’t going to win, then we aren’t going to lose. We have to drill that into the side.

“There’s going to be other games where we get a chance. At the moment, it’s a case of stopping the rot. Picking up points, hopefully in every game we play.”