Lambert lauds Villa performance
Manager Paul Lambert felt Aston Villa were "outstanding'' throughout the team in their 1-0 Premier League opening-day victory at Stoke.
Forward Andreas Weimann grabbed the headlines by notching the only goal of the game in the 50th minute with a shot that squeezed in off goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
But Lambert was keen after the final whistle to put emphasis on the collective effort that had seen Villa claim what was their first competitive win on the road since January 1.
He said: I don't like singling out individuals. But in terms of the whole team -- I thought the back four were outstanding. I thought (Aly) Cissokho, playing his first game for us, was outstanding. I could go through everyone. I thought Gabby's [Agbonlahor's] pace was a threat for the whole game.
"The three lads in the middle of the pitch, their energy was great. The whole team performance was excellent. Really good things -- a lot of pluses.''
Having seen his side pull off an impressive 3-1 win at Arsenal at the start of a 2013-14 campaign which ended with seven defeats in nine games and a 15th-placed finish, Lambert sounded a note of caution over Saturday's result. But he also emphasised that the feeling this time was "different''.
Put to him that the triumph at the Britannia Stadium made for a decent beginning to the season, Lambert said: "I said the same last year. Our season went into freefall after we beat Chelsea [their last game before those final nine matches]. The injuries to Christian (Benteke) and Libor (Kozak) never helped us, and we just stayed up in the last few games.
"But this year, it is a totally different feeling. I thought we were outstanding today. I thought we deserved to win the game -- after an initial 10-minute period, I thought we were excellent, everybody, the whole team.''
Lambert now has Roy Keane alongside him in the dug-out after the former Manchester United midfielder was appointed his assistant manager over the summer. Keane lived up to his fiery reputation by jumping up a few times and making his feelings known.
And Lambert, who insisted he was "not bothered'' that Villa fans could be heard chanting Keane's name rather than his own, said: "I'm not going to tell him to sit down - I'll let someone else do that! Roy has been brilliant since he has been here, a massive help to myself and the team.
"I'm pretty sure anyone who knows him or saw him playing the game of football, knows he wants to win. His own career was outstanding, close to one of the best players ever in the Premier League. And for me, as an assistant manager and a friend, he has been outstanding.''
The goal came about when the ball broke off Stoke defender Erik Pieters to Weimann, who took a poor first touch. But it came back to him via a combination of Pieters' teammates Marc Wilson and Stephen Ireland, teeing the Austria international up to fire in off Begovic.