Villa v QPR media watch [16.03.13]: Bumper press previews
Daily Star: Paul Lambert says his fearless cubs have the bottle to put the bite on QPR today. Aston Villa's youngsters face the biggest game of their lives, with Lambert insisting they fear nothing. Rangers boss Harry Redknapp might have experience in abundance, but the Villa manager says his teamare not shaking in their boots. Lambert knows anxiety when he sees it and senses none of it for this massive relegation fight in front of a sell-out Villa Park crowd.
Guardian: Paul Lambert has robustly defended Randy Lerner ahead of Saturday's critical relegation battle against Queens Park Rangers, with the Aston Villa manager claiming that the much-criticised American owner has "done one hell of a lot for this club". The Villa manager also praised Lerner for being "straight and honest" with him during a season when three of the other bottom-five clubs have sacked their manager. The most recent of those dismissals came on Monday, when Reading terminated Brian McDermott's contract following the 2-1 defeat against Villa. Lambert felt it was a hugely unfair decision and, highlighting the sacking of Nigel Adkins at Southampton a couple of months earlier, criticised a culture where managers lose their job depending on whether their face fits. Lambert's own position could hardly be more secure, despite the fact that Villa remain only one place above the bottom three.
Daily Mail: A shared vision will keep Aston Villa and Paul Lambert united this summer, whatever division the club are playing in. Manager Lambert hopes that he can carry on with his Villa masterplan regardless and a meeting with owner Randy Lerner on Thursday has reinforced that wish. "He's been brilliant. I know football and what can happen but I hope I get the chance," said Lambert. Villa entertain relegation rivals QPR on Saturday having beaten Reading last week and are aiming for back-to-back league wins for the first time in two years. Lambert believes that his Villa boys have grown into men over the course of the season and is backing them to handle the pressure against QPR.
Daily Mirror: Christian Benteke has been tipped to land the knockout blow in his heavyweight battle with Christopher Samba. Aston Villa's 6ft 3in Belgium striker bagged his 16th goal of the season in their win at Reading in last weekend's six-pointer. Benteke has been one of the signings of the season since joining from Genk for £8m last summer. On Saturday, in a classic relegation struggle, Benteke will be up against QPR's giant centre-back Samba after his January move. Harry Redknapp paid Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala £12.5m for 6ft 4in Samba, who is picking up a £100,000-a-week. But Benteke's manager, Paul Lambert, reckons Samba will be hard-pushed to come out on top at Villa Park.
Daily Express: Paul Lambert, under pressure to keep Aston Villa in the Premier League, claims Brian McDermott was sacked at Reading because "his face didn't fit". Villa beat Reading in McDermott's last game and victory over QPR today will put distance between them and the relegation zone. "I had chat with Brian and there was no sense of this coming," said Lambert. "People used to say this is a results business. Not anymore. "It's if people don't like your face, or like what you are doing."
ESPN: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert insists even clubs in mid-table may have cause to fear the Premier League relegation battle this season. Villa took a step towards safety by winning at Reading last weekend and face another critical afternoon with Saturday's visit of Queens Park Rangers. Victory would put serious daylight between Villa and the relegation places, but Lambert believes the jitters are being felt by other clubs as well.
The Sun: Relegation-haunted Gabby Agbonlahor is a hitman in a hurry — because he is desperate to avoid a final-day disaster. The Aston Villa star's crucial winner against Reading last weekend hauled Paul Lambert's team out of the bottom three and led to Brian McDermott's dramatic dismissal. Today, Agbonlahor will try to tighten the noose around Harry 'Houdini' Redknapp's neck by beating another of the Premier League's strugglers, QPR.
BBC Sport: Paul Lambert says struggling Aston Villa should not be "unduly worried" and he has not considered relegation. Villa are three points above the relegation zone ahead of Saturday's home game with the Premier League's bottom club Queens Park Rangers. But Villa boss Lambert insists he is looking up and not thinking about getting dragged into the bottom three.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.