What a great run of form we are on. Seven wins in the last eight matches and clean sheets in all those victories, one cant help thinking a corner has been turned.
There are plenty of things to find satisfying at the moment but I am going to choose to focus on the impressive form of the defence.
Our stats show that we only trail to Newcastle and Brighton, top of the table, in defensive performances this year.
The recent run is a huge part of that as we now see our clean sheet tally for the season reach thirteen, something we have rarely been close to in recent times. We, of course, play more games but this is significant nonetheless.
Last season we managed only six clean sheets all year, ten in the year before, nine in 2013-14 and just five in Lambert’s first season.
An improvement. How?
Well, the performances at the start of this season did not suggest a tightening at the back, however, an improvement has occurred, despite the significant blip, under Bruce.
An ex-defender himself you’d like to think he can get a team to effectively shut up shop, and we are currently seeing that.
Secondly is an effective mix of an old and new and young and experienced defence.
When Johnstone first arrived at the club, a few eyebrows were raised and then further when a few costly mistakes seemed to suggest we’d made a dud purchase.
However, in recent weeks, his performances have been much better and he has unsurprisingly played a huge part in keeping the goals out of late.
In front of him, we have two solid fullbacks with experience.
We have not all loved Hutton during his time at Villa but there is no doubt the effort he puts in for the team and is undoubtedly playing the best football for us in his time at the club.
The new signing of Taylor at left back is one of the best bits of business I think we have done in a long time. He is not even that old but has played a lot of football in the Premier League not to mention international tournament knockout games with Wales. Bacuna and Amavi are exciting options off the bench but are undoubtedly more effective going forward and less defensively sound.
At centre backs, there is a really impressive chemistry between Chester and Baker.
Chester has been one of my favourite players this season and shows that he should be really playing at a higher level. Like Taylor, his experience of the Euros and in the Premier League means he is almost the first name on the team sheet, and a good captain.
Next to him is Baker. A player who I’m finally confident in. For a long time, I was not sure of his quality while never doubting his commitment. After a season on loan in the Championship, however, he is certainly the first choice to play alongside Chester and it is currently working.
It would also be wrong to forget the impact Jedinak has had. His screening in front of the defence is invaluable.
The best teams have good defences and we are exhibiting a very strong one at the moment. Long may is continue and provide a base for our attackers to propel us up the league.