Monday media watch [04.02.13 AM]: Everton reports
Guardian: The present may be unpleasant but the promise of a brighter future cheers Paul Lambert. Encouraged by a second display of devastating, high-speed counterattacking on Merseyside this season, he voiced his belief that next year we will see the real Aston Villa. "If we get through this period, we will kick right on," their manager said. Lambert sees light at the end of the tunnel.
Daily Mirror: For a bunch of kids, there can be no harsher environment than the Premier League to grow up in publicly. Yet for Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert, there is some small consolation in the wretched struggles of his talented young side, as they desperately pursue their painful fight for survival. Let us get this straight. In this vibrant, entertaining contest with Everton, Lambert's team again showed their huge potential and obvious, exciting quality. This is not a team who have lost hope or are rejecting their manager. This is not a team who are devoid of ideas or direction either.
Daily Star: Karim El Ahmadi has warned Premier League defenders that Christian Benteke is only going to get better. Benteke, 22, fired a double as Aston Villa came agonisingly close to a vital three points at Goodison. He has now hit 14 goals since his £7m summer move from Genk. Morocco midfielder El Ahmadi, 28, said: "He can be unplayable. Every week I am surprised by what he does and his ability. He is one of the best strikers in the Premier League. I think he's getting better every day. And he's only 22. That's unbelievable." Sky Sports: Aston Villa midfielder Karim El Ahmadi believes star striker Christian Benteke could prove "priceless" for the club. The 22-year-old Belgium international has scored 14 goals for Villa this season despite the team's struggles and El Ahmadi reckons his team-mate is up there with the best. "Chris is one of the best strikers in the Premier League," said El Ahmadi. "There are games when he can be unplayable. Every week I am surprised by what he does and his ability."
Independent: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert called Christian Benteke "exceptional" after his two goals took his league tally into double figures after the 3-3 draw at Everton on Saturday. "He's only 22, just turned 22. For someone who has just come into English football he's been exceptional. I probably got criticised for signing him because he wasn't a name, no one had heard of him, people thought: "What's Aston Villa doing signing him? I'm pretty sure he's put that to bed. The frustrating thing is we didn't win having scored three goals but if we play like that, we will win more games than not."
The Sun: Christian Benteke was regarded as a £7.5m gamble when the unknown 21-year-old arrived from Genk this summer. Six months later and Karim El Ahmadi reckons he is PRICELESS. In a league where Fernando Torres cost Chelsea £50m, Manchester City shelled out £45m for Carlos Tevez and Andy Carroll cost Liverpool £35m, Villa's Moroccan midfielder cannot think of a better striker in the Premier League right now. And Benteke has just turned 22 - and is getting better, stronger and wiser every week.
Birmingham Mail: Paul Lambert has saluted Christian Benteke for setting "really, really high standards" as Villa look to the scoring sensation to be their Premier League saviour. Benteke took his tally to 14 goals - ten of them in the top-flight - with a brilliant brace in the tumultuous 3-3 draw at Everton. And, in a team plagued by up-and-down performances, Lambert has been delighted with the consistently "top-class" contribution from the big Belgian striker.
Birmingham Mail: Yacouba Sylla earned praise from Paul Lambert for his brief substitute cameo against Everton after experiencing his first Premier League action in difficult circumstances. Lambert was encouraged by Sylla's contribution after confirming the 22-year-old had only trained once following his £1.75m move from French club Clermont Foot.
Birmingham Mail: "I'm sick of talking about it." That was Paul Lambert's blunt response after yet another concession from corner denied Villa a desperately-needed victory over Everton at Goodison Park. Villa had successfully defended fourteen flag-kicks against the Toffees with many of them coming from the left boot of Premier League set-piece specialist Leighton Baines. But Baines's right-wing inswinger three minutes into stoppage time proved one too many for the claret and blues as Marouane Fellaini lost Ron Vlaar to head in Everton's equaliser.
Daily Mail: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert believes the fight against relegation over the last two months can accelerate the club's development. "I'm not one to feel sorry for myself," said Lambert after his side's chaotic 3-3 draw at Everton on Saturday. "We are fighting like hell to get out of it. But if they keep playing that then they will win more than not. We look a threat going forward. If we keep the drive we have, then hopefully we will get out of it."
Daily Express: Paul Lambert admits he would be off to the bookies to make himself an even wealthier man and Aston Villa would be a lot safer in the table if he could get his team to hold on to a lead. "How do we get to do it? If I knew that I would be in the bookies, wouldn't I?" he said, after Villa had led Everton and had been well worth it.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.