Sunday media watch [07.02.16]
Sunday Express: Boss Rémi Garde hailed Gabby Agbonlahor as he broke his goal drought to seal an important win for the relegation favourites. After the frontman's first goal in 11 months, Garde said: "Hopefully Gabby will be able to help us fight until the end. But it's not just about Gabby, it is about all the players and the team spirit."
Sunday Mercury: A home win, a clean sheet, a first-half goal and a strike for Gabby Agbonlahor all in one game! Villa finally gave their suffering fans something to cheer about with a well-deserved win over relegation rivals Norwich. Joleon Lescott's 45th-minute header was the first time Villa have scored in the opening period in ten Premier League games and Agbonlahor's embarrassing record of finding fewer goals than bookings in the past five years is finally over. Villa deserved this win and Idrissa Gana in the middle of the park was superb throughout.
Sunday Telegraph: Eleven painful months had passed since Gabby Agbonlahor last found the net for Aston Villa. He has emerged as one of the symbols of their shocking decline, with that embarrassing pub quiz statistic of having more cards than goals over the last five years. However, his first goal since March breathed unexpected life into Villa's survival mission and boosted his chances of earning a future under Rémi Garde as Norwich slumped to a sixth successive defeat. Joleon Lescott, another supporter of the club as a boy, scored the other goal to secure Villa's most comprehensive victory of the season and move seven points behind Norwich in the table.
Sunday Mirror: Rémi Garde might just end up thanking his lucky stars that Gabby Agbonlahor is still on the Aston Villa payroll. The one-club striker reportedly had offers from the Middle East during the January transfer window. And it was an open secret that the club would have happily taken his £45,000-a-week wages off the balance sheet. With Villa's nerves eased by a Joleon Lescott header, Agbonlahor's pace took him on to Jordan Veretout's pass and his finish was worthy of a man in form rather than one who hadn't scored since March 2015.
Daily Star: Aston Villa kept their faint hopes of survival alive by inflicting a fifth-straight league defeat on hapless Norwich. Villa rode their luck but goals either side of half-time from Joleon Lescott and Gabby Agbonlahor put Rémi Garde's men within eight points of safety. It was only Villa's second home win in their horror campaign but never has one been more timely. Struggling Norwich were wasteful in front of goal as Villa grafted their way to a vital three points in the driving rain.
Sunday Mercury: Rémi Garde admits Gabby Agbonlahor could be the man to save Villa's season. The striker ended an 11-month goal drought with a goal against Norwich and will be boosted to finally get off the mark this term.
Birmingham Mail Online: Rémi Garde is determined to improve the Aston Villa academy after introducing teenager Keinan Davis into the matchday 18 for the first time this season. The 17-year-old striker, signed from non-league outfit Biggleswade Town in December, was an unused substitute in the victory over Norwich as the manager once again looked to the youth set-up for fresh legs. At West Ham last week, 19-year-old defender Niall Mason received his first call-up while Jordan Lyden has also enjoyed a promotion from the U21 set up this term. In the Capital One Cup, Corey Blackett-Taylor and Easah Suliman appeared on the bench and Garde insists there will be more in the future.
Sky Sports: Norwich boss Alex Neil said his side 'gifted' Aston Villa goals as they slipped into the bottom three with a 2-0 defeat at Villa Park. The visitors enjoyed the better of the chances in the first half but went behind to a Joleon Lescott header on the stroke of half time before Gabriel Agbonlahor doubled Villa's lead six minutes after the break. Neil's side pressed to get back into the game and had numerous chances blocked and cleared off the line in the second half but the Canaries boss said that pressure counted for nothing and was disappointed with the nature of the Villa goals.
Birmingham Mail Online: Aston Villa's hard work on the training pitch finally reaped its rewards with victory over Norwich, according to boss Rémi Garde. The players have been putting in the hours for the Frenchman at Bodymoor Heath and today it finally paid off. Goals from Joleon Lescott and Gabby Agbonlahor sealed the win that left the claret and blues eight points adrift at the bottom of the table. Garde was delighted to finally leave Villa Park after a weekend of joy after watching over too many defeats since his arrival in November.
Sunday Mercury: Aston Villa's failed move for goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic took the club by surprise. A £4.9m fee had been agreed with Hajduk Split for the Croatian stopper but work permit issues ended their pursuit. Villa officials were confident that an appeal to the FA Exceptions Panel would help get the move over the line but twice they were told 'no deal.'
Best of the Rest
BBC Sport: Jamie Vardy has signed a new three-year deal with Leicester City. The England striker, 29, joined Leicester from Fleetwood for £1m in 2012, and his goals have helped Claudio Ranieri's side reach the top of the Premier League table this season.
Sky Sports: Fernando Torres scored his 100th Atletico Madrid goal in a 3-1 comeback win at home to Eibar in La Liga on Saturday.
BBC Sport: Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink is more concerned about what his team does with the ball than how much possession they have. On Sunday, Chelsea play a Manchester United side managed by Hiddink's fellow Dutchman Louis van Gaal. United have been criticised by shirt sponsors Adidas for their possession-based tactics this season.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.