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Lambert buoyant ahead of tough Chelsea test

Villa face Jose Mourinho's side at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday hoping to avoid a repeat of the thumping they suffered last term.

As part of a tough run in late December - in which Villa also lost to Tottenham and Wigan - Chelsea embarrassed them, as seven different players scored in a one-sided rout.

Lambert's men conceded 15 goals in those three games and did not score one, and although it heaped the pressure on them in their ultimately successful bid to avoid relegation, Lambert feels the experience has made his squad stronger in the long run.

"We have improved from last year. We have grown into it, grown into the league," Lambert told the club's official website.

"They have earned the right after a tough Christmas and New Year period. That spell in a roundabout way made them better. They might not have thought that at the time.

"I am pretty sure they will look back during their careers and think 'I'm glad I went through that.'"

Villa enjoyed a superb start to the 2013-14 Premier League season with a 3-1 win at Arsenal on Saturday.

Belgian striker Christian Benteke - who handed in a close-season transfer request only to revoke it - scored twice as Villa pulled off a big upset.

And although Lambert knows claiming two surprise wins on the trot will be difficult, he will send his team out with a positive attitude.

"We will give it a go, like we did on Saturday," he added.

"They are ready for it. Their confidence is really high after what happened at Arsenal. We will go down and give it a right go.

"We're looking forward to it. The lads are looking forward to another game. You go down there with no pressure. Everybody thinks Chelsea will win but you have to wait and see."