Pearson under pressure

Aston Villa 2 Leicester 1

Pearson under pressure

This was a wretched end to an uncomfortable week for Nigel Pearson.

Not so long ago it was Paul Lambert. Now it is the turn of the Leicester City manager to brave a storm of scrutiny over his position.

In refusing to apologise for footage appearing to show him telling one fan to “fuck off and die” after they had verbally abused him following last Tuesday’s loss to Liverpool, Pearson has demonstrated a steely resilience.

The same, though, cannot be said of his team, now 10 matches without a victory — having claimed two points from a possible 30 — leaving them bottom of the Barclays Premier League.

They had led for a third successive match, yet once again discovered any defensive deficiencies will be ruthlessly exposed in this division, with Leonardo Ulloa’s opener swiftly cancelled out by Ciaran Clark before Alan Hutton’s winner — his first goal for Villa — with 19 minutes remaining in what proved to be a fractious midlands derby.

“I’ve been asked a number of times about my position through this run,” Pearson said. “My view is the same.

“I cannot afford to worry about that as that would be a negative influence on how I work.”

He need not look far for a source of inspiration. A month ago it was Lambert who found himself in the mire following six successive defeats.

Now his team are five unbeaten, with successive victories having elevated them to 11th.

Their travails at home had appeared in danger of resurfacing when Riyad Mahrez’s deflected shot was uncharacteristically spilled by Brad Guzan, gifting Leonardo Ulloa a first goal since that memorable mauling of Manchester United in September.

Yet the prospect of that being an omen for a Leicester side without a win since receded just four minutes later.

The recalled Liam Moore was guilty of ring-rustiness as he allowed

Ciaran Clark to steal in unmarked to convert Ashley Westwood’s free-kick.

Westwood’s match was prematurely ended by a forceful scissor tackle from Jamie Vardy. He was carried off with a knee injury and Lambert will discover the extent of the problem today.

Vardy was cautioned and Pearson conceded it was “reckless.”

Retribution was swift as Clark left Ulloa writhing in a heap with a robust — yet fair — challenge and the striker did not return after the interval, although Pearson is hopeful it is just “bruising.”

Villa’s second-half dominance was eventually rewarded when Benteke’s floated pass picked out the unmarked Hutton at the far post.

He avoided the temptation to snatch at the chance, waiting for the ball to drop before drilling home a low shot.

“Alan is playing as well as anybody in the country at right-back at the minute,” Lambert remarked.

He found himself at the centre of attention again with 10 minutes remaining when, after being pole-axed by a vicious Paul Konchesky challenge, the pair squared up and buried their heads into each other.

Yet while the Leicester left-back saw red, Hutton, somewhat fortuitously, escaped with a caution.

“It will be difficult to have a decision like that rescinded,” Pearson said.

ASTON VILLA (4-3-3): Guzan 5; Hutton 8, Okore 7, Clark 7, Cissokho 7; Sanchez 6, Westwood 6; (Richardson 6, 44), Cleverley 6 (Grealish 62, 7); N’Zogbia 5 (Bacuna 76), Benteke 7, Agbonlahor 6.

LEICESTER CITY (4-4-2): Schmeichel 7; Simpson 6, Wasilewski 5, Moore 4, Konchesky 4; Mahrez 6, Cambiasso, James 6, Schlupp 5 (Albrighton 79); Vardy 5 (Wood 66, 5), L Ulloa 5 (Nugent 45, 6).

Referee: C Pawson

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