Winger James Milner believes Aston Villa have acquired a "winning habit" which kicks in even when the team are not firing on all cylinders.
The club's record £12million signing is now optimistic Villa can sustain their challenge for a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League.
Milner's deflected effort, which went down as a Lucas Neill own goal, earned Villa a 1-0 success at West Ham at the weekend when they were far from their best.
It was their sixth away success of the campaign and kept them ahead of Arsenal who visit Villa Park on Boxing Day for a crucial clash.
Milner said: "We had that bit of luck at West Ham and you need it from time to time. There will be games this season where we don't get any and I am sure it will balance itself out.
"We had chances in that game, West Ham had chances and I think it was almost inevitable that it would take that bit of luck to win the game.
"There is no doubt that we have played better this season - but there are games where it is going to be a battle and you don't play that well. If you get three points from those games - as we did at West Ham - then you're doing well.
"That shows the quality in the squad. It's about knowing how to win and sustaining that winning habit. We certainly have that at the moment."
Milner, who has defied a bout of flu to play in recent matches, believes O'Neill is building a squad capable of mounting a bid for a Champions League spot.
He said: "There are good young English players at Aston Villa with a great mix of foreign players as well. That is the most important thing, having that mix right and Villa seem to have been improving every season since Martin O'Neill came here.
"The top four is tough to get into and has been virtually unchanged for quite a while but a club will get in there at some point. It can't stay the way it has been forever.
"Villa are in as good a position as anyone to challenge for that. The games are coming thick and fast and the Christmas period coming up is also busy. But that is what happens when you play for successful teams and big clubs and fixture congestion is a sign of a team doing well."