• Premier League

Lambert: Benteke does not carry Villa

ESPN staff
May 2, 2013
Christian Benteke has scored 22 goals for Aston Villa this season © Getty Images

Paul Lambert has rejected suggestions that Aston Villa are being carried by in-form Christian Benteke.

Benteke has 22 Villa goals to his credit in his debut season in English football but Andreas Weimann and Gabby Agbonlahor also scored in the 6-1 rout of Sunderland, as well as skipper Ron Vlaar, and the manager believes he has an impressive all-round attacking armoury.

And the Scot hopes the combination will enable him to make a second happy return trip to Norwich on Saturday, his team having won 4-1 there in the Capital One Cup quarter-final earlier this season.

"It's not just about one player," Lambert said. "You need a team and need everybody to perform. I think that's unfair (to suggest we rely on him so much). I don't agree with that. You can say that with any team.

"We hadn't had Christian's type here since Emile Heskey left. I was on to him virtually from day one here but not while I was at Norwich.

"If he can stay as humble as he is, he can be a right top player. He's not the finished article by any means. He might have had a few more goals still and if he's in that sort of company where he is being talked of along with Peter Withe for goals in a season, that's great.

"I couldn't tell you what his value is. He has been fantastic. I have a good relationship with him and don't put any pressure on him… the main thing is to get him through the next three games."

Lambert has told his players to draw a line under the euphoria of Monday's slaughter of Sunderland and urged them to refocus their minds on the survival task still ahead of them.

The biggest home league win at Villa Park since 1995 dragged Newcastle as well as Paolo Di Canio's chastened players into the scrap at the foot of the Premier League, with Norwich only one point better off.

But Lambert has been preaching all week that the time for reflection and celebration has passed.

And he believes it would be dangerous to assume Villa are going to receive a neighbourly hand from West Brom, who have a Saturday afternoon game at home to Wigan.

"Don't dwell on the Sunderland game, it's gone," Lambert added. "We have got another three games to go and have to try to win those. But there's still loads to do.

"You let that game go but take the positives. Every time we've needed to get a result against someone around us, we've done it.

"You always look what's above you than below you and concentrate on those teams. We've given ourselves a chance. All season, we have had that belief to keep going and have never wavered from it.

"The crowd have grown with it and the atmosphere on Monday was electric. The players and fans are bonding with each other. We had to win Monday but the way we did it, with that feeling in the stadium, was incredible.

"For a number of teams, it's far from over. We'll try to keep that form up but if you start to look for others to do you a favour, you're clutching at things. The big thing for me is that every time we've been asked to get a result against teams in and around us, we've come up with the goods."

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