Tuanzebe and Mings have rightfully been receiving praise of late – but fans shouldn’t forget about James Chester, who potentially put the length of his career at risk to help Aston Villa.
Understandably, Axel Tuanzebe and Tyrone Mings have been receiving plaudits for their defensive displays during this season – and deservedly so.
The pair have been instrumental in the revival of Aston Villa this season that has seen them sitting just one game away from a place at this season’s Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final at Wembley, and have proved to be confident centre halves in front of goalkeeper Jed Steer.
But this partnership was not always so, and there was a time when club captain James Chester graced the centre of the defence, and for good reasoning too. Chester had impressed the season before alongside John Terry in a defence that also played a major part in the club reaching the Play-Off Final. He was given the captain’s armband for the start of the season and was one of the first names on the team sheet in what was a very makeshift defence.
From November onwards, James Chester was playing his football without training properly during the week, and taking injections for a knee issue which meant that any minutes that he racked up were through a pain barrier. The arrival of Tyrone Mings, which has proved popular amongst fans, has seen Chester able to get the treatment that he needs.
And despite missing a decent chunk of the season, the Welsh defender still managed to appear 28 times for Aston Villa this season, whilst not missing a single minute of league football the season before.
Chester’s last game of the season came in a 2-1 win against Ipswich on January 26th, just a few days before Mings arrived at Villa Park. This means, from November to that date, James Chester played in fourteen matches where his performances were hindered by pain.
And it wasn’t too visible in the sides form either, as the club managed six wins, six draws – including the emphatic 5-5 draw against Nottingham Forest – and just two losses, against Leeds (3-2) and Wigan (3-0). There were also games within these fourteen that Axel Tuanzebe was suffering with a metatarsal issue.
Granted, those six draws could have quite easily been wins and could have seen us placed in a higher position at the end of the Sky Bet Championship season – but this isn’t the fault of Chester who racked up a 7.0 average match rating across the games he was playing through injury. Put that into perspective. He was playing through injury and had a quality average match rating during it.
He was a true club captain across these games – putting the length of his own career at risk to ensure that we had a back line that was as strong as it could have been after the mess that Steve Bruce had left it in. Appreciate him for that, and never forget.