Soccer-Villa facing three must-win games, says Garde

Dec 16 (Reuters) - Aston Villa face a series of games against three other clubs down at the bottom end of the Premier League over the Christmas period with manager Remi Garde calling them "must-win" games. Bottom club Villa are without a league win for 15 games and Garde knows that dismal run must end over the congested holidays fixtures if their battle to stay in the top flight does not start to look like mission impossible. Garde's men take on 15th-placed Newcastle United on Saturday and are also up against Norwich City and Sunderland soon. "I knew the size of the challenge before coming. Now we have games that we have to win against direct opponents. They are must-win games," former Olympique Lyonnais manager Garde told the club's website ( "The next few matches will be very, very important -- crucial for us. We need a win to spark confidence. You saw times in the game against Arsenal where we had a lack of confidence. It was obvious. Sometimes we are too fragile. "But we have to work on that. Only work can help us in this situation. The spirit of the team is good. They do their best. A spark would be very good for us -- that would come with a victory. "For me now, it's now about giving more confidence to the players and the group, individually and collectively." Villa, who are six points adrift of second-from-bottom Sunderland at the foot of the league table, travel to Norwich City on Dec. 28 and Sunderland on Jan. 2. They host West Ham United on Boxing Day. Villa will definitely be bottom at Christmas, a position which traditionally makes relegation from the Premier League almost certain, although Sunderland and Leicester City bucked that trend in the last two seasons. (Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru)