Aston Villa manager Remi Garde would accept the “gift” of a lucky win when they take on West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday.
There has been little reason for festive cheer around Villa Park, with the Midlands club rooted to the foot of the table with just seven points to their name.
However, their second-half performance at Newcastle United last weekend offered encouragement to Garde, who is still looking for his first win since taking the helm on November 2.
Villa, whose last home league win was against West Ham back in May, came from a goal down to draw 1-1 at St James’ Park on Saturday, yet they remain in the unenviable position of being 10 points adrift of safety.
The Midlands club can have reason for confidence, though; the last two teams to have been bottom at Christmas – Sunderland and Leicester City – survived relegation. Only West Brom had achieved the feat prior to those escapes back in 2004-05.
And results are all that matters for Garde as he bids to pull Villa away from danger, the Frenchman saying: “I prefer to win playing well, of course. This is how I see football.
“But sometimes in this situation, a bad or lucky win will be a very good gift for us.”
Villa defender Micah Richards is still struggling with a knee injury that has seen him miss the last three games, while West Ham have a number of players still on the sidelines.
Dimitri Payet is not expected to return until January because of an ankle problem and Victor Moses (hamstring) and Manuel Lanzini (thigh) remain unavailable.
Manager Slaven Bilic indicated there is small chance striker Andy Carroll could feature after missing their 0-0 draw with Swansea City because of a groin issue.
West Ham are just four points adrift of the top four yet, despite Villa’s lowly position in the table, Bilic is anticipating a similar challenge to the one posed by third-bottom Swansea.
“Every game is difficult in the Premier League and Aston Villa are struggling, but they played a good game against Newcastle last week,” Bilic said.
“They are fighting for their lives and will have confidence from that away point. I am not expecting anything easier than Swansea.
“The Christmas schedule, it’s not ideal with the injuries we have but it isn’t something we can control, so we have to deal with it. It is the same for every team.”
Key Opta Stats:
– West Ham have won just one of their last eight trips to Villa Park in the Premier League (W1 D2 L5), failing to score in five of the games in that run.
– Aston Villa have won just one of their last 14 Premier League games played on Boxing Day (W1 D4 L9).
– West Ham have drawn their last three Premier League games 0-0 – the first time they’ve been involved in three successive goalless draws in the league.
– The Hammers have failed to score in over half of their 19 Premier League away games in 2015 so far (10).
– Villa have failed to score in their last four Premier League matches on Boxing Day.
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