Birmingham Mail: Paul Lambert wants to ensure Villa's battle to stay up does not go down to a tense last day decider at survival rivals Wigan. The Premier League relegation scramble is so tight that there are fears the claret and blues fate might not be determined until they visit the DW Stadium on Sunday, May 19. But Villa have six matches before then, starting with today's trip to Stoke and Lambert has urged his players to safeguard their top flight future as soon as possible.
Daily Express: Aston Villa are desperate to avoid a last-day showdown with survival experts Wigan. For the last two seasons Wigan have come back from the relegation dead with a sudden surge of winning form, and look capable of doing it again. Villa play first today at Stoke while Wigan take on QPR tomorrow and the emphasis is on Villa to put the pressure on with a win.
The Sun: Paul Lambert is desperate not to take Aston Villa's survival battle to a last-day nail-biter at Wigan. The Villa chief reckons that would be too close for comfort. Lambert, whose side go to Stoke today, said: "You don't want to go to the last day, that's for sure. "I'd like to be safe before then if possible. "I wouldn't take the final day now, you certainly don't want that. I'd rather get it done as quick as I can. I'll try and do everything I can to do it now. But this game's not do or die, there's too many games left. "And there's a lot of teams in it."
Daily Mail: Paul Lambert wants Aston Villa to secure Barclays Premier League survival as soon as possible and is desperate to avoid a showdown away to fellow strugglers Wigan on the last day of the season. Villa, who visit Stoke this weekend, are level on points with Wigan who have a game in hand and a superior goal difference. The Midlands club moved six points clear of the relegation zone after back-to-back wins over Reading and QPR, but Wigan's fine form has clawed the deficit back.
Daily Star: Ashley Westwood celebrated his birthday this week - and the toast might just as well have been with water. Aston Villa midfielder Westwood, 23 on April Fool's Day, is affectionately known as the 'Water Carrier' at Villa Park. Villa boss Paul Lambert gave him the tag for the selfless, no-nonsense style which has made him such a big hit in his debut Premier League season. Westwood will play a key role in today's massive relegation scrap at Stoke, still pinching himself that he's in the big time.
Mirror: Tony Pulis claims he can take being targeted by the Stoke fans as long as they cheer the team to safety. Pulis refuses to bite back at the growing number of supporters criticising him because of the Potters' slide towards the drop zone, and says they are entitled to their opinions. However, the Welshman has told the agitators in the stands they must get behind the players when they face Aston Villa on Saturday in a relegation showdown at the Britannia.
The Sun: Tony Pulis insists today's relegation clash with Aston Villa will feature two Celtic warriors not WORRIERS. The Stoke boss heads into today's six-pointer with criticism of Potters' footballing style from his own chief scout Lindsay Parsons still ringing in his ears. And he knows victory for third-bottom Villa will move Paul Lambert's kids to within a point of his side — and really turn the screw on him after seven years of success at the Britannia. But the Welsh dragon claims he has the fire in his belly to handle the heat — just as Braveheart Lambo has done at Villa.
Clubcall: Paul Lambert is backing Aston Villa's youngsters to hold their nerve in the survival battle and thinks Stoke are under more pressure. Villa are currently in the bottom three but victory at the Britannia Stadium this weekend will leave them only one point adrift of the Potters, who have won only one of their last 11 Premier League games. Lambert has seen Villa climb put of the relegation zone on four previous occasions this season and takes heart from the performance levels and confidence shown by his players in recent weeks.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.