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Lambert's angerat long-ball taunts... Boss:We're nota load ofhoofers; ...and boss insists Villa are working hardto get it right on home front.

Byline: MATKENDRICK Our man with Villa

they're wrong in saying that."

At the start of last season, the claret and blue faithful hailed Lambert's preference for possession football with chants of "We're Aston Villa, we're passing the ball."

And he confirmed his players are encouraged to try to play attractively by taking as few touches as possible at a high tempo and working hard to regain possession.

"We go and try and pass it," said Lambert. "We try and play football the right way, even in training.

"We certainly don't kick the ball long, that's for sure. You can ask anybody here, we don't play long-ball football, we just don't have players to do that.

''Gabby Agbonlahor and Andi Weimann, for instance, Ashley Westwood, Fabian Delph, Karim El Ahmadi - they're footballers."

Villa welcome thirdplaced City, having lost nine of their past 13 Premier League games at Villa Park, including this season's home fixtures against Liverpool and Newcastle.

"You need to win your home games," added Lambert. "I think you should have a good solid base at home. We've got to improve that.

"It seems like we're doing it the other way around, winning away from home and finding it hard at home. I don't know how that is.

"We don't set our stall out any different. We go and try and win every game that we play in.

"It's strange, but it's something we know we have to put right."

PAUL Lambert has angrily rejected accusations that his Villa team are longball merchants - and vowed to improve their home form.

Andre Villas-Boas claimed the claret and blues adopted route-one tactics during Tottenham's Capital One Cup victory at Villa Park on Tuesday.

Villas-Boas' comments follow a similar suggestion from Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho after Villa's Premier League defeat at Stamford Bridge last month.

Football statisticians classify 'long balls' as launches upfield, not to a specific player.

According to the Opta figures, Villa are the third-worst offenders in the Premier League this season, having hit 153 long balls, with only West Ham (169) and Crystal Palace (166) producing more.

Of Villa's total passes, 15.36 per cent are long, again ranking them third, this time behind West Ham (15.93 per cent) and Cardiff (15.61 per cent).

Lambert's team have also made the most headed flick-ons - 64 - in the top flight, ahead of West Ham (61) and Newcastle (58).

But Lambert has hit back at the criticism, insisting it is "detrimental" to brand his team 'hit and hope' when they pride themselves on playing passing football.

"I don't get that really," said Lambert, whose team host title-chasing Manchester City tomorrow afternoon. "If you go and look at your stats at how many long balls Chelsea played against us, I'm pretty sure we weren't ahead of them. And Spurs.

"We don't have the players to play long balls. We might play a long pass. We don't just hit it up front and hope for the best. I think that's detrimental actually, to say things like that. I don't agree with that.

"Even if Christian Benteke plays we don't play long. You're not telling me we're a big side other than Christian or Nathan Baker? "I don't think it's right to say that. We don't play that way at all. I think TURN TO PAGE 91

CAPTION(S):

MidfielderFabian Delph.

JoseMourinho.

AndreVillas-Boas.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Sep 27, 2013
Words:559
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