Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert hopes to drag Stoke into the relegation battle
Paul Lambert believes the pressure will be on Stoke when he takes Aston Villa to the Britannia Stadium.
Last Updated: 06/04/13 2:28pm
A win for Villa could be enough to lift them out of the drop zone while dragging the Potters into the heart of the relegation dogfight.
Lambert's side go into the clash four points adrift of Stoke, whose place in the top flight is far from certain after a run of eight defeats from their last 11 league games.
"Maybe Tony Pulis didn't visualise Stoke were going to be in this position after the start they had, but the reality is they are not too far ahead," said the Villa boss.
"I am sure Tony would like more points than he has got but we are only four points behind them.
"The pressure is on them. It's on Stoke because they are the home team and they haven't won of late as well. There will be a lot of pressure there for Stoke as well as ourselves.
"It is a huge game. Every game you play is massive. We know if we win, we are only one point behind them and that's the way to go and view it.
"You know you are going to have to physically match Stoke. You know the ball is going to come into your box and, the tempo they play, you are going to have to match that.
"But we did it at Villa Park earlier in the season when we competed really well against them and we are going to have to do exactly the same on Saturday."
Lambert is backing Villa's crop of youngsters to hold their nerve in the survival battle, and takes heart from the performance levels and confidence shown by his players in recent weeks.
He said: "When you look at the table, from 11th place down only four points separate the teams down to us. That's nothing. It's basically just one game.
"Everybody has to play some really hard fixtures. It's how you hold your nerve. We try to keep the place upbeat and we don't look like a team that is playing with nerves.
"You have to have a strong mentality so the pressure doesn't get to you and see it through. If you do that, that's half the battle.
"I have not spoken about relegation or anything like that. I think that breeds negativity. Form gives you confidence and we are playing well enough to get results.
"The thing for me is that they are confident in having the ball. It is not as if they are frightened by it and just want to launch the ball up the field. They are certainly play with a bit of freedom."