Villa v Liverpool media watch [31.03.13]: Vlaar on Petrov/Suarez
Sunday Express: Paul Lambert believes his young players can more than handle the pressure of battling against relegation. And the Aston Villa boss even reckons his youngsters will benefit from the experience they have gained this season if they beat the drop from the Premier League. Villa will be chasing a third successive league win for the first time in nearly three years when they take on Liverpool today. Lambert says another Villa victory would have teams above them looking over their shoulders at the possibility of being dragged into the dogfight.
Sunday Mercury: Club captain Stiliyan Petrov is still pumping up his Aston Villa team-mates in their battle against the drop. The Villa hero is in remission as his battle against acute leukaemia continues but that hasn't stopped him playing a pivotal part in the crunch relegation run-in. Skipper Ron Vlaar says the team gain so much energy when they speak to the Bulgarian star and he admits they also get a huge lift when he turns up on match-days. Petrov is likely to be at Villa Park for today's clash with Liverpool, and the 19th-minute applause will be as poignant as ever as this weekend marks exactly one year since his diagnosis was made public.
Daily Star on Sunday: Ron Vlaar has revealed absent captain Stiliyan Petrov is the unsung hero in Aston Villa's dramatic survival scrap. Bulgarian midfielder Petrov, 33, has not appeared in the Villa first team since this time last year, when he was diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully the man nicknamed Stan is now in remission, yet stand-in skipper Vlaar has revealed he remains a key figure behind the scenes and an inspiration in the battle to beat relegation.
Sun on Sunday: Ron Vlaar says Aston Villa must beware Jekyll and Hyde Liverpool star Luis Suarez. Villa skipper Vlaar, who believes Suarez is one of the best he has faced, says he is losing his reputation as a diver — though the Uruguayan appeared to throw a punch at Chile's Gonzalo Jara in midweek. But centre-half Vlaar, 28, who faced former Ajax star Suarez when he played for Feyenoord, believes the Premier League's leading scorer has cleaned up his act.
Mail on Sunday: Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar believes Luis Suarez is now attracting headlines for his footballing skills rather than alleged incidents of diving ahead of tomorrow's home clash with Liverpool. Vlaar was involved in many battles with Suarez from their time with Feyenoord and Ajax respectively before the pair moved to the Barclays Premier League. He admits Suarez's on-field antics attracted the same sort of publicity in Holland but feels incidents of going to ground too easily are a lot more isolated.
ESPN: Ron Vlaar is bracing himself for a challenging time against an old foe when Aston Villa aim to take a further step towards safety on Sunday. Memories of clashes on the other side of the North Sea will come flooding back when the Dutchman squares up at Villa Park to Liverpool player of the season Luis Suarez. "I know him from Holland," Vlaar said. "He was top scorer in the Dutch League and if he can do it here, it says something about his capabilities. He's a very good player, very strong."
Daily Star on Sunday: Ciaran Clark has vowed to complete a double over Liverpool today - and move Aston Villa away from the drop-zone. The Republic of Ireland defender (left) starred in Villa's shock 3-1 victory at Anfield last December and believes Paul Lambert's young kids have finally come of age. Victories over Reading and QPR in their last two games have lifted the gloom at Villa Park. And Clark, 23, insists a corner has been turned and that Championship football won't be on its way to the home of the 1982 European Cup winners.
Goal.com: Aston Villa have confirmed that midfielder Jean Makoun is set to leave Villa Park and make his loan deal at Rennes permanent this summer. The Cameroon international will sign for the French Ligue 1 outfit this summer for an undisclosed fee, having made 22 appearances for Les Rouges et Noirs since joining them on loan last summer.
Sky Sports: Aston Villa have confirmed that midfielder Jean Makoun will complete a permanent move to Rennes at the end of the season. Makoun has spent this season on loan with Rennes and the French club have taken up their option to sign the 29-year-old for an undisclosed fee.
Sunday Mirror: Christian Benteke has handed Aston Villa a huge new incentive to stay up. Striker Benteke has been a revelation since arriving in England, sparking interest from Tottenham, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and Villa's opponents today, Liverpool. But Benteke is desperate to fire the Villains to Premier League safety and is then ready to reward manager Paul Lambert's faith in him by staying for at least one more season.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.