Aston Villa defender Matt Lowton has commended his team-mates' efforts over the last month after achieving a strong defensive base on which the team can build on and turn their Premier League season around.
The side's 0-0 draw against Stoke lacked any substantial attacking flair but Paul Lambert's young defence managed to hold out for their third successive home clean sheet, suggesting that they are turning Villa Park into a fortress.
Putting aside those difficult games against the two Mancheseter clubs, Villa have only conceded a total of one goal from five games in the last month, highlighting the success achieved through Lambert's regeneration of his defence by trusting in youth.
Only Gabriel Agbonlahor has survived the revolution enforced by Lambert since his arrival, with summer signings Brett Holman, Ashley Westwood and Christian Benteke instrumental in Villa’s attacks, and academy graduates such as Ciaran Clark, Chris Herd, Nathan Baker and Eric Lichaj all nailing down regular first team roles at the back in the former Norwich boss’s overhaul of the Villans first-team set-up, a decision which Lowton himself feels vindicates the manager’s show of faith.
"We've kept three clean sheets in our last four games so that shows that we are all pulling together," he told the club's official website.
"We work together defensively during the week and I think it shows out there with the clean sheets that we are doing well.
"They boys were fantastic at the back. We knew they were going to go long and they've got some tall centre-forwards.
"But we won the headers, battled fantastically and came out with a clean sheet. You know what they are going to do when they come here.
"But the clean sheet shows that we dealt with that very well.
"Christian had a few chances too and we got to the by-line a few times - myself included - but we didn't pick the final pass.
"Stoke are going well so it was a good point and we've got to keep that run going now - unbeaten in four."
Lambert has not just drastically altered the individual personnel in his team but also their formation, as he has successfully switched from a flat back-four to a 3-5-2 with wingbacks – a system Roberto Mancini’s league winning squad are still struggling to adopt – but one in which Lowton feels right at home.
"I've got more freedom to get forward," added the Leeds United academy graduate.
"There are three centre-backs and two defensive midfielders so you can get forward more.
"I helped create a few chances and had a few shots myself but I'll play wherever the gaffer picks me."