Aston Villa are five points clear of the Barclays Premier League's relegation places.

Their manager never feels more than two steps from a similarly inauspicious position; Paul Lambert admitting last night that he is unable to stop thinking about the prospect of getting sacked. The Scot may not expect to gain much comfort from the visit of Arsenal later this evening.

The Birmingham side are enduring an impoverished run of form at the moment having won only one of their last seven matches. They have been defeated in five. Any potential for optimism is not improved by the fact that Villa are at home either since they have just twice at Villa Park since the start of the season. That 3-1 win away to Arsenal on the opening day of the campaign seems so long ago now.

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The impact such form will have on Villa's survival chances might soon become clear and there is concern too for how it might impact on Lambert. The manager is known to have a good working relationship with Randy Lerner but is aware that the Villa owner is unlikely to hesitate about cutting him loose.

"I never stop worrying and I'm not immune [from being sacked]," said Lambert. "The relationship between me and Randy is what it is. You are never immune from anything. I would never view it that way but you just keep going and don't lose focus on what you are trying to do. I will never waver from that."

Lambert was also quick to stress that he has suffered in the days which followed a defeat by Sky Bet League 1 side Sheffield United in the FA Cup third round. "I have felt the same way I do after every other game [Villa have lost]," said the former Scotland midfielder. "I don't sleep great, I don't eat great. The usual stuff."