Building from the back

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This season has been a torrent of disappointments for Aston Villa fans. We have endured a terrible season in front of goal and, although most fans are aware of the shocking statistics, I will remind you that we have scored eleven goals in twenty-two Premier League games, which equates to 0.5 goals per game – the worst record in the Premier League (and then some).
However, it’s not all bad news even though the mainstream media will dwell on the doom and gloom. The Villans have the fifth best defence in the top flight of English football, behind the current top four clubs. This is a record that many may not be aware of as it is hidden beneath the negative stories written about our club. This is something that I find astounding considering the last few years and the defensive woes that we have had. There was a time where we thought that Matt Lowton would be our right back for years to come, a thought that never came to fruition.
The partnerships in central defence have been key to our record this season. We have been without World Cup defenders Ron Vlaar and Philippe Senderos for the majority of this season due to a number of injuries but that hasn’t made a difference to us at all following the emergence of Ciaran Clark, Nathan Baker and Jores Okore as top class defenders.

Jores Okore was signed last season by Paul Lambert and endured a very difficult first season, missing all but three games due to a lengthy anterior cruciate ligament injury. He was rumoured to be looking for a new club in November following an alleged falling out with the manager. How catastrophic it could have been to lose a player with as much potential as Okore. Thankfully, due to injuries to Vlaar and Senderos, he has been a regular starter in recent months and now looks to be the most solid defender at the club.

The player who has surprised me the most this season has been Ciaran Clark: he has gone from being an inconsistent cover player to a player I would be happy to see captain the team at Arsenal on Sunday if he weren’t injured. He has formed a solid partnership with Okore at the back and the Villans have benefitted from that pairing.

It is evident that we are much more solid at the back and that is partly down to the experience of Aly Cissokho and Alan Hutton in the full back positions. They have been brilliant and I can’t see anyone better than either player at right back and left back respectively in our squad. The youth of Clark, Okore and Baker has been refreshing too and they have really stepped up to the plate, showing their potential and dealing with situations in games as professionally as anyone else would.

It is true that goals win you games. I believe we will start to find the back of the net on a more regular basis in the coming month or so, thanks to the signings of Carles Gil and Scott Sinclair, filling the attacking midfielder position that we have been crying out for. Add to that the possible return of Libor Kozak in a few weeks’ time and we have a decent forward line. However, you have to build from the back in the Premier League and there is no way we would be out of the relegation zone if it weren’t for our defensive record this season.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Ron Saunders worked on the theory that once you have a solid defence, you build from there, but had a tremendous attacking midfield, wide players, and strikers.

    Lambert works on the theory of a solid defence, due to using defensive midfield players to boost that theory, hence, the attacking side of that theory has suffered badly, no service to the front players, because not enough creativity from midfield.

    Gil looks a start to repair that, but how long until he’s played out of position and neutered? Lambert has a thing about using players to their weaknesses not their strengths.

  2. Just got back from the game today, never in all my years as a Villa fan have I witnessed such apathy with the team and fans!! We deserve better, Lambert just go and do the right thing, and Lerner sell our great club before we are worth a lot less in the Championship!! I love the Villa as I am sure you all do but what we saw today just isn’t good enough, deadly Doug would have sent him packing by now!!! Up the Villa.

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