Villa v West Ham media watch: Lambert sets wins target
Daily Star: Paul Lambert admits Aston Villa may need six wins from thirteen games to pull off a great escape - something they have not managed for three years. Second-bottom Villa have won just four of their 25 league matches this season and have gone eight games without a top-flight win. Worryingly for Lambert, his win target has not been matched by Villa over 13 games since 2010, when Martin O'Neill was in charge. One glimmer of hope is that only late goals in their last three away matches at Swansea, West Brom and Everton have denied them wins.
Birmingham Mail: Paul Lambert expects Villa to mount an amazing trend-bucking recovery mission during the relegation run-in after setting them an audacious six-win survival target. Lambert believes the claret and blues are capable of the "five or six wins" they need from thirteen remaining "cup finals" to propel them to Premier League safety. It would require a remarkable upturn in form and fortunes for Villa, who have managed just four league victories all season during their plummet to second bottom. Indeed, Lambert is asking his players to achieve more in the final third of the season - thirteen games - than they have produced in the first two thirds - twenty-five matches. Including the back end of Alex McLeish's reign, when Villa won just two of their final seventeen games, it has taken the club forty-two matches to clock up six league victories. Lambert's characteristically positive thinking is to be admired but tomorrow's home match against West Ham must spark a total transformation for it to happen.
The Sun: Paul Lambert says Aston Villa must produce their best run in more than three years if they want to stay up. The Villa boss believes his second-bottom side need six victories from their final thirteen games — two more than they have managed so far this season. At the end of 2009 Martin O'Neill's side went on a seven-game unbeaten league run that included five wins. And now Lambo plans to take a leaf out of his old Celtic gaffer's book.
Daily Express: Paul Lambert has set Aston Villa the task of finding their best form for three years to beat relegation. Struggling Villa have won only four league games all season, but Lambert says they will need up to six more victories from their last thirteen matches to stay in the Premier League. That will be Villa's best run of form since the 2009-10 season when the man Lambert still calls 'The Gaffer', Martin O'Neill, was chasing a Champions League place.
Birmingham Mail: Ciaran Clark should take on board constructive criticism from one of the best centre-halves to have played in this country, says Paul Lambert. Clark's defensive display in the 3-3 draw at Everton was the subject of in-depth analysis by Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen on BBC1 last Saturday evening. The former Liverpool and Scotland star picked apart Clark's deficiencies in dealing with powerhouse striker Victor Anichebe, who scored the Toffees' first goal. But Hansen also had kind words for the Ireland defender and complimented him for sticking to his task and learning from his mistakes. Lambert admits it has been a steep development curve for Clark this season in a backline conceding 49 Premier League goals. And he admits Hansen is well worth listening to when it comes to advice on the art of defending.
Birmingham Mail: Paul Lambert reckons "cult hero" Christian Benteke has doubled in value after warning potential vultures they will need a "few quid in their pocket" to prise him away. Reports suggesting Benteke will want to quit Villa this summer regardless of whether they are relegated surfaced after his international duty with Belgium this week. But Lambert insists the £7m signing from Genk has never indicated a desire to leave and is contracted to the claret and blues until the summer of 2016.
Daily Mirror: Paul Lambert is urging his young Aston Villa side to become streetwise and use "tricks" to avoid relegation. Struggling Villa have blown two-goal leads three times this season to drop vital points. Last weekend, Villa led 3-1 at Everton only to concede a last-gasp equaliser in their 3-3 draw. The Brummies also lost 3-2 at home to Manchester United in November, despite being 2-0 up and drew at 2-2 at West Brom last month after a dominant first half. Now, frustrated boss Lambert wants his inexperienced side to start playing dirty to close out games with cynical tactics.
ESPN: Paul Lambert has played down fears of Christian Benteke bailing out of Aston Villa this summer while again looking to him for the goals that can fire the club to Premier League survival. Stories about the striker wanting to move on in the close season whether or not Villa stay up surfaced during his midweek international duty with Belgium, but the manager has called him 'a cult hero' and believes it would already take double the £7m the club paid Genk for him to prise him away.
Birmingham Mail: Ashley Westwood will be checked by Villa's doctors ahead of tomorrow's West Ham clash after being laid low with illness. Westwood has become one of Paul Lambert's first choice midfielders but was forced to miss training with a sickness bug.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.