Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood has told the club's official site that his side are in danger of facing the drop unless they start to defend better.
Villa have improved of late, but they are still not out of trouble and they are currently only two points outside the drop zone.
That could have been so different if they had managed to beat Manchester City at the weekend, but Sherwood felt his side's display against the Citizens exposed a problem Villa have had all season.
The Claret and Blues were the better team against City for large portions of the match, but they failed to capitalise on their dominance due to their porous defending, and Sherwood believes that the defeat should serve as a warning to his team.
"We need to tighten up defensively if we're going to stay in the Premier League," he said.
"We nullified their individual talents. The disappointment is that they didn't have to work too hard for the goals.
"We gifted them the goals. That's a real frustration. But overall, I think the players really believe. We've won some big games in the last few weeks and we should have taken something from the home of the champions."
Despite Sherwood's admission it would still be a huge surprise if Villa did go down now as they look a very different side under his leadership.
Villa had looked idealess under Paul Lambert, but Sherwood has given them a new lease of life and they now look one of the more threatening teams in the Premier League.
If Sherwood had been in charge since the start of the season they surely wouldn't have been in this mess, but he will have to ensure that his side's performance levels remain at this standard to help them away from trouble.
Sherwood vs Lambert
Sherwood has generally been praised for his work on helping Villa find more forward quality, but the stats would suggest he has also helped them tighten up already.
|Match||Goals conceded per game||Duels won per game||Headers won per game||Interceptions per game||Clearances per game||Tackles per game||Shots faced per game||Appearances|
|Aston Villa||With Sherwood||1.55||60.77||24.44||12||25||17.1||11.66||9|
|Aston Villa||With Lambert||1.36||50.92||16.44||12.92||31.92||17.04||13.44||25|
At the moment the Claret and Blues are not being rewarded for their defensive improvements, and they are conceding more goals per game than they were when Lambert was in charge, but things should change soon.
Villa are allowing opposition teams fewer shots on their goal, while they are also making more tackles, headers and winning more duels than they were under Lambert.
It means that Villa's defensive showings are heading in the right direction and as long as they keep putting in these sort of performances they should be see themselves clear of trouble by the end of the season.