Arsenal v Villa official preview: Lambert relishing pressure
Paul Lambert insists he's fed up of friendlies - and is now feeling a tingle of nervous excitement as the real business of the Barclays Premier League begins on Saturday.
Lambert, of course, appreciates the need for pre-season to get the players both in shape and in tune with the claret and blue ethos he aims to nurture.
But the 44-year-old loves nothing more than the cut-and-thrust of competitive action in the titanic top-flight, which starts for Villa against Arsenal at The Emirates.
He said: "I'm excited for the players and the fans. I can't wait for the team to get going. I can't wait for it to be competitive.
"I'm fed up with friendlies now, with nothing at stake. I'm looking forward to it when there's something riding on it all.
"I'm looking forward to the games and the pressure of it again. I think everybody loves the pressure of it.
"That's what we do, that's the job, we're all under pressure and sometimes it's great to have that on it. I'm looking forward to all that again.
"You feel the nervous excitement in this past week too. You feel that. That's normal. Then you just want to get it on.
"You have that opening day tingle too. When you're travelling down to London, you know what you're about to get involved in. When you get to the stadium itself, that's when it starts to kick-in.
"Before you know it, the summer is over and it's on you and you have to go again. On Saturday, we will be in it."
The Gunners will undoubtedly be tricky customers this weekend, with Arsene Wenger overseeing an expressive band of fantastic footballers.
But, while Lambert is an admirer of both the manager and the club, he is in confident mood and determined to mastermind a victory in the capital.
While other teams would head to Arsenal with a degree of anxiety, Lambert insists his team will go there with a no fear approach.
He continued: "Arsene Wenger is a great football manager. And they are still a top-class side. They are one of the top ones in the country.
"It wasn't long ago they went to Bayern Munich and turned them over.
"They have fabulous players. It's a great place to play - brilliant football pitch and a brilliant atmosphere. They have everything there.
"But we will go there and give it everything. There's two ways to go - you're either frightened by it or you go and try to win. I will do the latter because that's the way I have been brought up. It's the way I have brought the team up to go and try to win.
"We will go there with no fear.We certainly have a threat."
Villa, of course, head to Arsenal on the back of both a fine pre-season and a startlingly brilliant end to the previous campaign, with the claret and blues producing a flurry of fine football to fend off relegation and establish themselves as a team of youthful exuberance and electric energy.
Lambert believes that will be the vibe for the coming campaign, starting at The Emirates.
He expects his team to play with fluidity, flare and fortitude.
But he also wants his young lions to start games quicker, after noticing they didn't early on in the previous campaign.
He continued: "We will always give it a go. It's the only way we know how to play.
"We have a lot of energy in the side, that's shown, and we have goals in us.
"I think that's the only way we can play. I don't think we can be one of these teams that can knock the ball around 95 times or anything like that because they're young lads, they want to go and press the game, they want to go and have energy and have the excitement. That comes from being young.
"At the minute, they're ready to go. I won't need to wind them up.
"But also, we can't start games the way we sometimes did last season. We've got to be bang at it from that first moment because you don't have time in this league to think you can ease yourself into it for 15 minutes or so. We have to be ready.
"I think that's the big thing they've learned - that we have to be ready straight away. You have to hit the ground and hopefully get results. We will be ready."
While it's impossible to predict the result any week - especially on the opening day - Lambert is certain that the claret and blue fanbase will be in encouraging and engaging voice again, after their enthusiastic backing in his first season in charge.
He added: "We will need them again every game. You can sense the support home and away. I don't think that will waiver. I think they will stay with it.
"The good thing for me is the feelgood factor behind us. The crowd are with us. The players are ready for it. We will try and win on Saturday."
Arsenal v Villa
AVTV DON'T MISS
Yacouba Sylla [ankle], Chris Herd [calf] and Charles N'Zogbia [achilles] are all set to miss the Arsenal clash.
Boss Paul Lambert must also make a decision on whether to start new centre-half Jores Okore, who hasn't had a great deal of pre-season action after injuring himself in Germany.
Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta has a thigh injury and could miss the first six weeks of the season.
Thomas Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal are out with back injuries.
Villa will be wearing their blackcurrant and white.
Villa have won just two of their last 19 trips to London to face Arsenal - but both have come since the Gunners moved to The Emirates Stadium.
Only Chelsea [three] have won more away Premier League games at The Emirates than Villa [two].
Villa have played the opening fixture away from Villa Park 12 times in the Premier League era.
The Emirates Stadium saw more goals than any other ground in the Premier League last term .
Villa were the only top-flight side to earn more points away  than at home  last season.
Arsenal are unbeaten on the opening day in 12 seasons since a 1-0 defeat at Sunderland in 2000.