Villa look to boost PL campaign
Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor has challenged Aston Villa to use Capital One Cup success as a catalyst to revive their campaign in the Barclays Premier League.
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11. Gabriel Agbonlahor
Villa are through to the quarter-finals of the competition for the third time in four seasons after Christian Benteke's last-gasp goal earned a 3-2 win at Swindon.
Cup results have offered a contrast to their league form, with Villa having endured their worse start to a campaign for 43 years ahead of fixtures against Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal in November.
But Agbonlahor believes the inexperienced side being assembled by manager Paul Lambert will reap the benefits of a cup run.
The striker, who won three England caps earlier in his career, said: "As people know, we've got a lot of young players. Everyone is still gelling together. It is still early doors.
"But a cup run definitely helps. The victory will give us a fair bit of confidence for the matches we've got coming up.
"We haven't won for a few games and that will give us a lift and hopefully we can take that into the weekend (at Sunderland).
"I played in the final in 2010 and that gave the club a whole lift. If we keep doing the right things, there's no reason why we can't have another good run.
"You also remember what it meant to the fans, to the kids, to go to Wembley. It's a big thing."
Agbonlahor, who scored the second goal with a stunning strike against the Robins, is Villa's longest-serving player among the current squad.
He said: "It's not like I'm a young lad anymore.
"I enjoy the responsibility and I've got to dig in deep when things aren't going right for the whole team.
"You need experienced players doing that for the team and that's why we got the result at Swindon."
Lambert has played Agbonlahor in a wide role in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Benteke used as the main striker.
It has meant no place in the starting line-up in recent games for record signing Darren Bent.
But Lambert has been delighted with the contribution of £7million summer capture Benteke and Agbonlahor.
Lambert said: "I think Gabby has been excellent the last few weeks, in excellent form, and his goal at Swindon was top-drawer.
"Strikers judge themselves on goals but there is a lot more to Gabby's game.
"His work rate is phenomenal and the way he is playing at the moment is very good.
"I've said it before but Christian is only 21 and will become a big, big player for Villa.
"He has been an absolute pleasure to work with and he plays in a brilliant Belgium team so that says something about his ability.
"People say it is looking like money well spent but how do you judge someone based on transfer fees? It is a hard thing to do because of the inflation of money - but he has been great for us."
Lambert stressed the importance of people fighting for places with Bent now having a battle with Benteke, Agbonlahor and Austrian Under-21 player Andreas Weimann.
The Villa manager said: "You need the competition. It is the whole team ethic you need to have and that's what I look for.
"You win games with individual brilliance but you need the team and I can't ask for any more effort than what they have given me."