Villa v Everton match preview: Vlaar wants fans to go crazy with support
Don't touch any Haribo. Don't think about gulping down bottles of Red Bull. You won't need any kind of sugar-rush to get high on Saturday!
Football is back at Villa Park. That's enough to give anyone of claret and blue persuasion an almighty wave of adrenaline.
The shirt will be hung on the wardrobe door and the season ticket will be stashed on the sideboard, ready for that marvellous moment when the alarm clock rings, the eyes pop open and matchday is finally here.
Now, speaking to the players in the run-up to the Toffees test - especially the newboys - it's fairly obvious that their excitement levels are peaking too.
Chatting to Brett Holman, Karim El Ahmadi, Matt Lowton and Ron Vlaar, the prospect of donning the famous top and walking out of the tunnel to tumultuous applause is clearly an appetising one.
Vlaar, in particular, spoke at length about his eagerness to sample the delights of life in B6 - and the importance of connecting with the fans at home.
"I can't wait for the first game when Villa Park is filled with our great supporters," said Vlaar.
"We have to give them reasons to shout. We have to play very good!
"We have to fight together as a team and get a good spirit. But we have to get a good spirit with the crowd too. If that works, I believe we will be a hard team to beat, especially at home!
"We have to give them signals on the pitch and they can shout and go crazy for us. Then we will be hard to beat.
"I play with a lot of passion. I just want to win every game, no matter what. I hope to bring that over to the other players and the crowd and then we can be very strong together.
"We have to do it on the pitch and they have to support us in the stands. We have to do that together.
"I have obviously been in the stadium already and I have seen all the pictures from the past. That's great. I believe we can bring that happiness back.
"I really like the stadium. It's unbelievable. I want to see it loud and full of supporters."
That was also one of two vociferous messages coming out of manager Paul Lambert's pre-match press conference ahead of the Toffees encounter.
First, he wants to see the crowd respond to the efforts of his players. Second, he's aware the team must have a cutting-edge to get those very fans off their seats.
He believes the combination of fans and players could be explosive for Villa going-forward.
"The need to create chances was there for all to see at West Ham," said the gaffer.
"We had a lot of the ball in certain points during the game but at the end of the day you've got to score, which we never did. We will try and rectify that.
"There's no point saying we need the crowd and we're not giving them something.
"We are at home and we have to get on that front foot. There's too many people come to watch. We have to force the game.
"But I need the crowd. I have always said it that the most important people at any club are the fans and the players. It doesn't matter who the manager is, the most important are the fans and the players.
"If I can get them bouncing off each other, it will take off. The fans will raise the roof with the noise. The noise the football stadium can generate is really, really great. It's a powerful thing!"
There's no question attacking impetus and a drive to score are two basic requirements needed to lift the B6 audience, traits Lambert admits were missing at Upton Park.
And you can be sure he'll do everything in his power to hammer home that message to his players as they get ready to leave the dressing room at 2.55pm.
But one element that seemingly escaped everyone's attention in the aftermath of the 1-0 loss in the capital was the dogged and determined way in which the back four defended.
You need two to tango, so the saying goes.
You obviously need to create chances and score goals to win matches. But you also need a strong and resolute backline, who will do everything they can to protect their goalkeeper and fend off the attacking instincts of their opponents.
Yes, they conceded a soft goal. But overall Ron Vlaar, Matt Lowton, Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker all looked the part and produced an excellent defensive display.
Lambert made sure he mentioned their admirable performances in his media briefing on the eve of the game.
"Ron Vlaar has been excellent for us since he's come. He's a strong lad with a great attitude," said the boss.
"He's got great enthusiasm for the game. He had a physical battle last weekend and it will be a bit different for him - Dutch football to the Premier League - but he's been excellent for me, very good.
"I think Ciaran is going to be a really top player. He's only a young kid but I think that guy is going to have a really big future. I think he will be one hell of a centre-half.
"I thought Nathan did really well, considering he's predominantly a centre-back. I was happy with him.
"He never gave it up and had a brilliant last-ditch clearance towards the end of the match.
"I never thought Matty looked out of place. We were strong against a physical team.
"When you look at it, the back four is pretty young. Shay takes the average age up to about 84!"
With youth comes a willingness to learn, a willingness to listen. With Lambert being an excellent man-motivator, there's no question the players will be up for it on Saturday - at both ends of the pitch.
Match: Villa v Everton
AVTV Don't Miss
Nathan Delfouneso and Chris Herd have both overcome thigh problems to make Paul Lambert's squad for Saturday.
Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor [knee], defender Richard Dunne [groin] and winger Marc Albrighton [foot] remain sidelined, although Agbonlahor should return to training at Bodymoor Heath next week.
Everton will make a late decision on whether to include Kevin Mirallas.
Defender Sylvain Distin [back] and striker Nikica Jelavic [groin] are injury concerns for David Moyes.
Tickets for this match are still available.
Contact 0800 612 0970, pop into Villa Village or City Centre ticket offices or buy online - click here.
Villa will be wearing their home kit of claret and blue.
Last Time Out
Villa 1-1 Everton
Darren Bent will make his 300th career league start.
This is the most-played fixture in the top flight.
Villa have 72 wins to Everton's 70 from the previous 194 league meetings.
Villa are on a 12-match unbeaten league run against Everton, although six of the last seven have been drawn.
Everton's last victory at Villa Park was 3-1 in February 2005.
Go to full match coverage for Aston Villa 1 - 3 Everton (24th August 2012) >
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