Bumper Friday media watch [27.09.13]: Man City previews
Sky Sports: Paul Lambert is hoping his Aston Villa side can rediscover their best home form against Manchester City on Saturday. Villa Park has been anything but a fortress since Lambert took charge of the club at the start of last season. Lambert has orchestrated just five home victories from 21 Premier League games, notably chalking up nine defeats in the last 13 stretching back towards the end of December. The run includes defeats to Liverpool and Newcastle already in front of the Villa supporters, while the club were unceremoniously dumped out of the Capital One Cup by visiting Tottenham in midweek, who are the next visitors on October 20 after City.
ESPN: Paul Lambert wants Aston Villa to end their disappointing form in front of their own supporters and punish Manchester City if they field a weakened team ahead of their Champions League meeting with Bayern Munich. Stoke City manager Mark Hughes suggested two weeks ago that City manager Manuel Pellegrini had made a mistake in his team selection for the 0-0 draw at the Britannia Stadium -- ahead of City's first Champions League group game against Viktoria Plzen. It remains to be seen what side Pellegrini will select for the visit to Villa Park, where Lambert's side have lost nine times in their last 13 home games, but the Scot believes his team are capable of inflicting damage on City's title aspirations if the Chilean coach tinkers with his line-up on Saturday.
Express & Star: Villa boss Paul Lambert today revealed Christian Benteke could return within the next three weeks. The striker is recovering from a hip injury and was initially ruled out for up to six weeks. Benteke tweeted yesterday he is already off his crutches less than a week after suffering the setback at Norwich. And Lambert hopes the five-goal striker could be fit to face Tottenham on October 20.
Birmingham Mail: Christian Benteke has potentially halved the timeframe of his injury lay-off and could face Tottenham in three weeks if he continues his rapid rate of recovery. Villa expect Gabby Agbonlahor, Fabian Delph, Antonio Luna and Ciaran Clark to return from injury for Saturday's match against Manchester City. Ashley Westwood is targeting next weekend's trip to Hull after picking up a thigh strain - the first real injury of his fledgling career. Villa feared Benteke would be out for a hefty length of time and, even after the scans on his hip flexor problem this week, estimated a six-week lay-off. The 22-year-old targetman tweeted on Thursday that he is already off his crutches and Paul Lambert admitted Villa's Belgium top scorer was targeting a quickfire return in three weeks. If Benteke is able to return for the Sunday, October 20, home game against Spurs, it would mean missing just two Premier League matches, against Manchester City and Hull.
ESPN: Paul Lambert is hopeful Christian Benteke will be able to return to action at Aston Villa quicker than doctors first indicated. Benteke was told to expect to be out of action for up to six weeks, after damaging a hip flexor muscle in last Saturday's 1-0 victory over Norwich City. On Thursday, the Belgian international wrote on his twitter account he is walking much better and without the need for crutches -- and Lambert is hopeful the striker will be back in action for Villa after the international break next month.
Teamtalk: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert is hoping striker Christian Benteke will return to action sooner than originally anticipated from a hip injury. The Belgium international incurred the problem in Saturday's 1-0 win at Norwich and the original prognosis saw him ruled out for up to six weeks. But Lambert has issued an upbeat assessment on Benteke's condition and is hopeful he may be back in action for the home game with Everton on 26 October.
Irish Independent: Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini claims next week's clash with European champions Bayern Munich is not yet occupying his thoughts. Pellegrini wants to focus on the weekend Barclays Premier League trip to Aston Villa before switching his attention to Wednesday's glamour Champions League tie at the Etihad Stadium. City attracted some criticism after labouring to a goalless draw at Stoke a fortnight ago, three days before their last Champions League outing. Potters boss Mark Hughes suggested Pellegrini had prioritised the wrong game after making six changes at the Britannia Stadium. But even though Pellegrini has confirmed Sergio Aguero will not be risked at Villa Park after a knock, the Chilean insists his quest for top spot is priority this weekend.
Birmingham Mail: Leandro Bacuna will continue to push Matt Lowton for the right-back role at Aston Villa as Paul Lambert's team prepare to face in-form Manchester City. Bacuna impressed in that position during last weekend's win at Norwich after Lowton was dropped for the first time in his claret and blue career. Lowton remains Villa's main specialist on the right side of defence - with Alan Hutton still out of favour and Chris Herd on the periphery after injury - and manager Lambert has tipped the former Sheffield United defender to recover from his disappointment. But the versatile Bacuna has staked a strong claim to keep his Premier League place at the back despite shifting to midfield, with Lowton returning, in the midweek cup defeat to Tottenham. The Dutch U21 international, signed from Groningen in the summer, played an important part in Villa's rare clean sheet at Carrow Road and did a solid containing job on Canaries winger Nathan Redmond. Bacuna is happy to continue at right-back if Lambert so wishes and admits the competition between himself and Lowton should keep their standards at a high level.
Daily Mirror: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has been boosted by the return of several players ahead of this weekend's clash with Manchester City. Gabriel Agbonlahor returns to the squad, while Fabian Delph, Andreas Weimann, Ciaran Clark and Antonio Luna should also feature. Speaking ahead of the game, Lambert said: "You need to win your home games. "You should have a good solid base at home, but we seem to be doing it the other way around at the moment, winning away from home, and finding it hard at home. I don't know why that is. It's strange." Villa will still be without Christian Benteke who is suffering from a hip injury and Ashley Westwood (thigh), while Jores Okore (knee), Charles N'Zogbia (Achilles) and Gary Gardner (back) are long-term casualties.
Daily Mirror: Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini is set to be without Sergio Aguero as his team line up against Aston Villa this weekend. Joint top-scorer Aguero took a knock in the latter stages of the Manchester derby last Sunday and is unlikely to be used during Wednesday's Champions League clash with Bayern Munich. City will hope to replicate the performance that they gave last time out in the Premier League, when they saw off Manchester United with a convincing 4-1 victory. But talisman David Silva (thigh) is still out but could return against Bayern and Martin Demichelis (knee) remains on the sidelines and has still not played a match since joining from Atletico Madrid in the summer.
ESPN: Sergio Aguero will miss Manchester City's trip to Aston Villa but manager Manuel Pellegrini is confident he will be fit to face Bayern Munich on Wednesday. The Argentina striker was injured during last week's 4-1 derby win over Manchester United, when he scored twice. And both he and midfielder David Silva, who has a thigh problem, will be unavailable for the visit to Villa Park.
Goal.com: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has hit back at claims that his side only play long-ball football. The Villans have come in for criticism this season for their style of play, with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho among those to question their tactics after a 2-1 victory over Lambert's side in August. Those sentiments were echoed by Tottenham coach Andre Villas-Boas after the London club came through their Capital One Cup third-round clash with a 4-0 win on Tuesday but the Scot was not happy with either manager's comments and, ahead of the Premier League fixture with Manchester City on Saturday, claims that his side merely play to their strengths. "It's detrimental to say things like that," Lambert told the press.
Express & Star: Boss Paul Lambert today hit back at Andre Villas-Boas and insisted Villa are not a long ball team. The claret and blues chief has defended his style after Tottenham chief Villas-Boas labelled them direct following his side's 4-0 League Cup win on Tuesday. He became the second manager after Jose Mourinho to issue a veiled dig at Villa with the Chelsea boss also claiming they are one dimensional. Villa host Manchester City tomorrow aiming to respond from Tuesday's loss when Villas-Boas said they were "aggressive, used long balls and were direct" - something which has angered Lambert. "That's detrimental to say that. I don't agree with that," he said.
Daily Express: Paul Lambert has hit back at Jose Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas after they both labelled Aston Villa a long-ball team. Villas-Boas was the latest to have a go after Tottenham's 4-0 Capital One Cup win at Villa on Tuesday and Mourinho did the same after Villa pushed Chelsea hard at Stamford Bridge. "It's detrimental to say things like that," said Lambert. "If you look at your stats, how many long balls Chelsea played against us, I'm pretty sure we weren't ahead of them. "We might play a long pass but we don't just kick it up front and hope for the best. It's not right to say that about us. We try to pass it and try to play football in the right way."
Daily Mirror: Paul Lambert has slammed claims his Aston Villa are a long-ball side, after Spurs counterpart Andre Villas-Boas branded them direct. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho suggested Villa play only "one way" after his Blues beat them in August. And Tottenham's Villas-Boas weighed into the debate after their midweek Capital One Cup win at Villa Park. Villas-Boas said: "Villa were very, very aggressive - long balls and direct." Unhappy manager Lambert responded: "We find that a bit wrong saying that. We don't play that way at all. We don't just kick it upfront and hope for the best. "We don't have the players to play long balls - we might play a long pass. I think it is detrimental to say things like that and I don't agree with that. "Ashley Westwood, Fabian Delph, Antonio Luna, Karim El Ahmadi - they are footballers, we don't have lads to go and play long. Even if Christian Benteke plays, we don't play long. "Don't tell me we are a big side, other than maybe Christian and Nathan Baker. We try and pass it. Even in training."
Express & Star: After their Tottenham terrors, Brad Guzan has vowed Villa will not suffer a Manchester mauling. The keeper insists Villa will attack Manchester City tomorrow and not shirk their responsibilities. Manuel Pellegrini's free-scoring outfit have hit nine goals in two games after a crushing 4-1 Manchester derby win and a 5-0 thumping of Wigan in the League Cup. In contrast Villa were dumped out 4-0 by rampant Spurs on Tuesday amid an injury crisis. Guzan watched from the bench as Jed Steer tried to keep Tottenham at bay with boss Paul Lambert forced into seven changes. Gabby Agbonlahor (ankle), Ciaran Clark (thigh), Andi Weimann (rested) and Antonio Luna could all return tomorrow after missing the Spurs defeat. Christian Benteke, though, is out for up to six weeks with a hip injury in a major blow to Villa's early season hopes. But Guzan, fresh from his first clean sheet in 27 league games - after last week's 1-0 win at Norwich - said Villa will not roll over against City.
Clubcall: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has vowed to end his side's horror home record. Villa Park has been anything but a fortress since Lambert took charge of the club at the start of last season. From 21 Barclays Premier League matches on home soil under Lambert, Villa have won just five, notably chalking up nine defeats in the last 13 stretching back towards the end of December.
Birmingham Mail: Aston Villa midfielder Ashley Westwood is set to miss tomorrow's match against Manchester City with the first real injury of his career. But manager Paul Lambert is hopeful that the midfielder will be fit enough to return for the trip to Hull next weekend. A thigh strain kept Westwood out of the claret and blues' Premier League win at Norwich and Capital One Cup defeat to Tottenham and the City game is likely to come too soon for the 23-year-old. Lambert admits the former Crewe favourite has enjoyed an injury-free career up until now. "That's been a major blow losing Westy as well," said Lambert.
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BBC Sport: Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has no regrets about the breakdown of his friendship with former mentor and Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho. Villas-Boas, 35, worked under Mourinho for seven years at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan and faces him for the first time when the Blues visit White Hart Lane on Saturday.
Sky Sports: Brendan Rodgers wants to keep Liverpool inside the top six before dipping back into the transfer market in January. The Reds made the best possible start to their 2013-14 campaign, with three successive 1-0 wins taking them to the top of the Premier League standings.
BBC Sport: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he is "honoured" to receive the backing of owner Stan Kroenke and that it would not take much to extend his reign. Kroenke has said he is proud of 63-year-old Wenger and wants the Frenchman to stay for the long term.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.