Belfast Telegraph

Lambert brushes off job pressure

Paul Lambert has dismissed the heat on him ahead of Aston Villa's tussle with Tottenham.

The Villa manager is preparing to run the home gauntlet on Sunday after his side lost their last five games without scoring.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is also under pressure from fans because of a stuttering campaign that sees his side mid-table in the Barclays Premier League.

The former Southampton boss has seen his team win just once in their last seven league games, and they lost 2-1 at home to Newcastle last Sunday.

Lambert has not had a win to savour since signing a new four-year contract in September but he insisted the criticism does not worry him.

"If you look at teams like Tottenham and Liverpool who spend a bit of money the pressure probably intensifies because they were in the top six last year," Lambert said.

"We've played nine games and this will be our sixth game against last year's top six.

"You have to come through it. It goes from one manager to the next. If you look at which manager is under pressure it is one guy one week, the next the next and another the following week. Everyone gets a hit at it.

"It's just the way football works - you just have to turn it around. It would be more nail-biting if we had five games to go but we're 10 games into the season. You've got to be able to handle it, it's two big clubs going head to head.

"I have my own way of dealing with things."

Villa lost to Everton, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City before they went down 2-0 at QPR on Monday.

Lambert admitted the fixture list had not been kind and it has given his side a mental battering.

"The difference against the top five is that it's relentless. Physically and mentally, it's hard against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, you don't have a rest in there," he said.

"The mental toughness for that is excruciating at times. If you are not getting results it's hard.

"Teams will play to their strengths but we have to be more creative, there are players to do it."

Lambert is without Fabian Delph (shoulder) and Alan Hutton (ankle) while Philippe Senderos (thigh) is also likely to miss out.

There could be a recall for Charles N'Zogbia, as Villa search for a goal after 531 barren minutes.

"Charles has talent to burn," Lambert said. "He has that in his make-up and we have to find a role where he can create things. He really is a talent.

"He can play wide but he had that spell at Wigan where he played in behind the strikers."

Mauricio Pochettino believes there is more emphasis on him to play Harry Kane because the striker is a young English prospect - but the Tottenham head coach will not bow to supporter pressure.

Kane, 21, has scored eight goals for Spurs so far this season but has yet to score in, or start, a Barclays Premier League game under Pochettino.

The Tottenham academy product has hit his goals in the Europa League and Capital One Cup but is now champing at the bit to line up against Villa.

With the more experienced duo of Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor having scored just two league goals between them it is understandable that Spurs fans want to see their local boy get a chance.

But Pochettino, who said on Friday that he is considering starting Kane at Villa Park, is not prepared to say for sure that the England Under-21 striker is going to have a run of league games.

"Always," Pochettino replied when asked if there was more pressure on him to play Kane because of his nationality.

"Today if we were in Argentina and he was Argetinian player and playing with two foreign strikers, it would always be a sensitive situation.

"He is English, he is young and from the Tottenham academy so it is normal. We understand he is a special player for Tottenham and for our supporters.

"I understand because he is an English player. He scored the last game against Brighton and Asteras and I understand he is a special player for our supporters.

"My decision is always about my analysis on the training and after to give the balance to the team and our performance. Not only focus on different situations ... but I understand and I know that this is a special player for our supporters."

Nabil Bentaleb is the only other injury absentee for the trip to face struggling Villa, with Aaron Lennon in contention despite only playing the opening 45 minutes against Brighton following a hamstring problem.

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