The final four - Aston Villa can't afford to do a Birmingham

Benteke Villa

Aston Villa's season just got exciting, but the next four games are of vital importance...

Aston Villa did what Arsenal couldn't, win their League Cup quarter-final to make their way to the final four.

They did it in superb style, scoring four past Norwich, a disaster for the Canaries given their dislike for Paul Lambert and the way he left the club after three excellent seasons in East Anglia.

After going 1-0 down early on, Brett Holman replied instantly, before Andreas Weimann netted a late brace and Christian Benteke added gloss to the scoreline, winning out 4-1.

It was a welcome victory, and Villa have to fancy their chances of silverware, although will hope to avoid Chelsea in the semi's if they beat Leeds next week, bu with respect, Bradford, and the winner of Swansea and Middlesbrough are winnable ties.

The cup has provided a great relief for Villa this season - Last night was the second time this campaign Paul Lambert's side have scored four in a match, the first coming in a memorable 4-2 win away to Manchester City, which included a Gareth Barry own goal.

By contrast when Villa visited the Etihad in the league, they were trounced 5-0.

The temptation will be for players for celebrate need to quickly, but we'd strongly advise Paul Lambert to think twice about letting them wild on a Christmas party.

In the Premier League Villa sit 17th, level on points with 18th placed Wigan, and have won just two of their last 10.

They can't afford to celebrate, a quick look at their fixture list tells you that. Villa need not think about the final four of the cup, but think about their final four fixtures in 2012.

On Saturday Paul Lambert will take his side to Anfield to face a rejuvenated Liverpool with a rested Luis Suarez. A week later they travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea, in what could be a preview for next month's cup semi-final - Dependent on Chelsea's result and the draw.

Three days after that they host top four chasing Tottenham Hotspur, who are unpredictable under Andre Villas-Boas, but have a good away record this season. Villa need to pick up a win in one of those three fixtures, but it won't be easy.

If they don't they will go into the December 29 clash at home to Wigan possibly below them, and could be in the relegation zone.

It will be no place to end 2012, and the match will be a real six-pointer. Lambert needs to get them producing their cup form in the league, but if only it was that easy.

Last night was great, but as rivals Birmingham famously found out two years ago - Take your eye off the Premier League and the club will pay the ultimate price. We realise the comparisons are not ones fans will appreciate - But the situation is important and Villa need to end the year strongly and go into 2013 full of hope, and not in a relegation fight.

What are Villa's prospects for the final four games. How many points can they pick up? 

image: © little-pete

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