During Aston Villa’s 2-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday, defender Nathan Baker was substituted quite early on due to injury and Mile Jedinak was subsequently moved into the back four to partner James Chester in the centre of the defence.
This move has led me to question whether or not Jedinak could see his career out as a defender and not a midfielder.
The Australian midfielder looked very comfortable when he moved (not that he didn’t in his usual holding midfield role) and the team looked solid on the whole. Jonathan Kodija was given ‘man of the match’ but, for me, the former Crystal Palace man was the best player on the pitch.
How does he compare?
The thirty-two-year-old may have done a good job against one of the league’s most dangerous attacking partnerships but how does he compare to others?
According to WhoScored, Mile Jedinak averages 1.8 tackles, 2.2 interceptions and 4.2 clearances every game. In comparison, Welsh defender James Chester averages 2.2 tackles, 3.2 interceptions and 5 clearances.
It is clear by comparing those two players who the natural defender is. Former West Bromwich Albion defender Chester has impressed many this season. He is very quickly becoming a favourite with the fans and his is probably one of the first names manager Steve Bruce puts on his team sheet – but how does he compare to the man he replaced?
Nathan Baker has improved considerably this season – or so we like to think. Is he just better suited to this level? I will leave that question for another day. The twenty-five-year-old averages just 0.8 tackles per game. Likewise, he averages just 1.3 interceptions, making both those statistics lower than those for Jedinak. However, Baker averages a massive 7.8 clearances a game, much higher than either of the other two.
It comes as no real surprise that James Chester is the weakest in the air. The Wales international has won 3.3 from a possible 5.1 aerial dules. Baker has won 3.7 from 5.9 while Mile has won 6.1 from 8.3.
Should we drop Jedinak to defence then?
The simple answer to that question for me is no. Aston Villa looks a stronger outfit when all three are in the team. All three of them complement each other’s weaknesses and, with Steve Bruce looking like he has finally found the solution to the two full-back positions, we could be on to something going into next season.
The more these three play with each other the better and stronger Aston Villa will become and the team will be able to start moving forward.