In the run down towards the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final and afterwards, the writers here at The Claret and View are voting on who they believe deserve a number of awards, including ‘Player of the Season’, ‘Young Player of the Season’ and more.
For our fourth award, the ‘Player Of The Season’ award, we whittled down the choices to James Chester, Jack Grealish and Sam Johnstone.
We have all been in agreement that the rock at the back, James Chester, fully deserves the Claret & View Player of the Season.
Why James Chester is Our Player of the Season
James Chester has gone about his business on the pitch in a very professional manner since joining Aston Villa from West Bromwich Albion in 2016. While other players in the Villa set-up this year garner all of the attention and highlights to match, you generally don’t hear much about Chester from commentators and pundits. Most people would think because he fails to do anything special on the pitch, but it is actually quite the opposite. With four goals, one assist, and an average match rating of 7.01 through 46 matches played, James Chester is definitely head and shoulders above a great number of other players in the Championship who play in the same position.
‘Chezzy’ has an incredible ability to read the game of football for a centre-back. While he is not a tall and stalking defender by any means, James Chester makes up for his stature with heart and passion. There have been countless times where Chester has been seen leaping up and over some of the taller defenders in the Championship. Chester has also been seen many times this year coordinating the back-line for Villa through constant and bellowing communication, especially when John Terry went down with a metatarsal injury earlier in the campaign. Moments like that will tell you all you need to know about the Warrington-born centreback.
While the signing of John Terry at Aston Villa made James Chester give up his captains armband, he never seemed to take the news badly. Then again, how could one ever be agitated over forming a partnership with one of the greatest English centrebacks to ever play the game? The true professionalism shown by Chester in this instance is another notch in who he is not only as a player, but as a human being as well. Every single Villa supporter must be thankful that Terry and Chester have formed a seemingly supernatural bond over the course of the season. It cannot be said enough of the impact John Terry has had on the entire squad, but it seems James Chester and Jack Grealish have benefited from Terry’s leadership the most.
Another talking point about James Chesters’ game that gets zero love is his ability to pass. In the uncommon event that he gets himself into trouble at the back, Chester has the wit and smarts to slyly trick an oncoming striker and get the ball safely to the feet of one of his teammates. This is not a run of the mill occurrence for a lot of centrebacks and especially not in the Championship. And in the event that the strikers are not trying to press the backline of Villa, Chester has been known to make a 10-15 yard run forward and try to slot the ball over the back of the defense or towards the widemen in an effort to keep play in the final third. The more you think about the skills of a player like Chester, the more he does not sound like a centre-back at all.
As previously mentioned, Chester has been seen all season being a complete rock when he needs to be. The calmness he exudes is second only to John Terry in the Aston Villa squad. When Aston Villa defeated Wolverhampton 4-1, Chester chipped in for the cause with a massive goal to put Villa up 2-1 in the game. Chester will never be called upon to be a target man on set-pieces, but he has shown to be exactly that in his time at Aston Villa up to this point. The complete willingness to succeed and contribute may have gone under the radar for some supporters, but it is very apparent now that James Chester is a Premier League quality centreback.
Let us all hope that is exactly what he is next year for Aston Villa.