Five key 2013 fixtures left for Aston Villa

Paul Lambert's side are in a better position than this time last season but what games face them in the remainder of the the year that matter most?

Aston Villa sit nicely in mid-table and still have star striker Christian Benteke on their books after a summer of departure rumours and transfer requests. It's a far cry from last year where after 11 games of the season the Villans were battling relegation.

The rest of 2013 gives them the chance to really cement themselves in the middle positions and maybe even push towards the top seven. Here are their five key games before the turn of the year.

West Bromwich Albion (A) 25th November - Next Monday evening sees them travel the short distance to the Hawthorns to take on their local rivals. The Villa fans will be demanding a positive result to make sure they aren't receiving a ribbing in work from Albion supporters the next morning.

Sunderland (H) 30th November - Villa fans and players will be hoping for a repeat of last season's meeting where Benteke scored three as Lambert's side beat Paolo Di Canio's Black Cats 6-1 to move them further away from the drop zone.

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Fulham (A) 8th December - To have a successful campaign the games like this need to end in a positive fashion. A win at Craven Cottage would see them push the Cottagers further into the relegation dogfight and move them closer to the top half.

Manchester United (H) 15th December - It's always a special occasion when United travel to Villa Park and with a new man in charge in David Moyes, Lambert and his Villa side will fancy their chances of picking up three special points.

Crystal Palace (H) 26th December - The home fans will be hoping for a point filled festive period and will be expecting three points against a Palace team who are currently bottom of the league and without a manager.

image: © Ben Sutherland

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