Remi Garde insisted Aston Villa must beat Norwich or Sunderland to breathe life into their survival bid.
Villa are nine points behind the Canaries, who are a place above the relegation zone, ahead of Monday’s game at Carrow Road.
Garde’s side are marooned at the bottom of the Barclays Premier League and also go to Sunderland on Saturday, four points behind the Black Cats.
They are winless in 17 games, since the opening day of the season, following Boxing Day’s 1-1 draw with West Ham and Garde knows their next two games are crucial.
“I think we definitely have to win one of these two,” he said.
“It will be difficult because we are fighting against teams not in a good position too.
“I would like to add the spirit within the dressing room, it is much better now. The energy in the group is much better than a few weeks earlier.
“It will probably help us to have this kind of performance more regularly.”
Jordan Ayew’s penalty rescued a point in Saturday’s draw with the Hammers but Rudy Gestede, who started ahead of Scott Sinclair, wasted two fine chances and faces a battle to keep his place in Norfolk.
“Football is about creating chances and converting chances,” said Garde.
“Rudy is not lucky at the moment but he worked very hard for the team.
“Sometimes he had chances but I won’t blame him – I won’t blame anyone. We gave everything in terms of individuals – and the collective.”
Ayew netted his fifth goal of the season, and third in five games, from the spot and the 24-year-old believes Villa’s form will turn despite their desperate plight.
“We have to continue like this, things are changing bit by bit. We’re going to win games if we continue playing like this, there’s no doubt.” he told AVTV.