Lambert trying to limit Villa stress
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has said he is trying to protect his players from the survival hype surrounding Monday's crucial meeting with Sunderland at Villa Park.
Lambert described the encounter with Paolo Di Canio's side as a "must-win" game in the aftermath of Villa's 3-0 defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday.
With United already champions, the main focus in the Premier League is now on the battle at the basement, and the spotlight will be on the Villa boss and his young side after the weekend games as they again play on Monday.
Lambert made his own foray into the psychological warfare that will accompany the remaining games by reminding Sunderland and Di Canio that the Wearsiders remain embroiled in the struggle for survival despite two successive wins.
While Lambert is relishing the pressure, he is keen to shield his players from it. "It is important that I keep it away from them. They have to concentrate on the football and take care of that," he said.
"What we do within the football club is important. It is about the players, together with the crowd. They are the two main components which will drive us forward."
Lambert believes the Villa Park faithful can play a vital role in helping the club to safety, adding: "It will be an excellent atmosphere on Monday. It will be vibrant.
"We need the supporters on Monday. I'm pretty sure the crowd will be right behind us.
"In terms of the game, we know it's going to be tough. But it's not just about Sunderland coming down here. We have a job to do. We're at home, and the onus is on us to make the running."