Houllier hopes to maintain momentum

The mood at Villa Park has been transformed in the past week following the £24million signing of Darren Bent from Sunderland. Bent sparked the resurgence with a debut strike in Saturday's uplifting Barclays Premier League win at Manchester City and Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young followed up with the goals in a 2-1 win at Wigan on Tuesday night.

Houllier said: "The Manchester City game was very important psychologically for us, for many reasons. But we have got to stay focused and keep working, we don't take anything for granted in this league. Any team can beat any team. All I know is we are physically fitter and stronger and mentally stronger as well."

Villa looked strong in attack at the DW Stadium and Bent had two clear-cut opportunities in the first half.

One of them brought a fine point-blank stop from the in-form Ali Habsi, who also denied Stewart Downing from close range.

Wigan had good chances through Charles N'Zogbia and Hugo Rodallega but Villa took control as Agbonlahor nodded home in the 49th minute.

Young added a second from the penalty spot after being brought down by Hendry Thomas on the hour and Villa held on despite James McCarthy striking with the aid of a huge James Collins deflection.

Houllier added: "In the second half I thought we dominated most of the game, controlled it and passed the ball around.

"We probably deserved the lead and at 2-1, that is where I think the team has mentally progressed and improved.

"There was no sign of panic. They threw everything to get an equaliser but we stayed in place."

Source: PA

Source: PA