sport

Villa keen to test Newcastle

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert is hoping to capitalise on any potential home nerves in the Newcastle team as a result of their recent slump in form.

Alan Pardew's side have not won at St James' Park since Boxing Day and are on a run of three straight defeats during which they have conceded 10 goals without reply.

In their last game on home turf they were hammered 4-0 by Tottenham and were booed off at the final whistle.

Villa, meanwhile, have collected 17 of their 28 points on the road and seem to relish playing away from home more than at Villa Park.

"I think the expectation levels will be on Newcastle with the crowd and the club that it is," said Lambert.

"They've been beaten pretty heavily in their last few home games which isn't like them, because they've been pretty consistent.

"Alan's done a great job there and it'll be a tough game. But we also know that if you can get on the front foot the crowd might become edgy."

He added: "I think any club with a big fan-base, especially at home, they come expecting you to win and if things go against you you can hear the grumblings and the moans and such.

"But you've got to be a big enough player to take the ball in any situation. You can never be frightened by it. It's something you have to be able to live with and be able to handle that pressure.

"Sometimes it can get to you. Some players can handle it but if it gets to you, it becomes tough."

However, Lambert is also aware his team could also suffer a backlash on Sunday from a Newcastle team with a point to prove.

"I'm not so sure it's a 'good' time to go there," he said. "It's always a tough game there. Always. We're playing very well away from home, I think we've picked up 17 points away, which is an incredible amount.

"We know we can cause trouble there. We've got to get that crowd against them and if we can do that then we've got a chance."