Aston Villa season in review: James Chester

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MAY 07: James Chester of Aston Villa during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Brighton
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MAY 07: James Chester of Aston Villa during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Brighton /
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Aston Villa center back James Chester took the captaincy by storm this season. Chester, 28, thrived under another season with manager Steve Bruce at the helm.

CB – James Chester, 28

Appearances: 45

WhoScored Aggregate: 7.08

Goals: 3

James Chester arrived at Villa Park in early August under then-manager Roberto Di Matteo. Chester, coming off a tremendous semi-final run in the European Championships, immediately slotted in beside Tommy Elphick in central defense.

He did not disappoint.

In fact, it was Chester, not Tommy Elphick, that excelled in their role. Chester started 45 of 48 league matches on the season, a key, dependable figure in the squad. Following Elphick’s relegation to the bench, the Wales international developed chemistry with his replacement, Nathan Baker.

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The partnership of Baker/Chester rocketed Aston Villa to a top-five defense in terms of goals conceded.

The arrival of Steve Bruce meant the defender would work with the manager he played under at Hull City.

Perusing the statistics, there is nothing Chester did not excel in. Aggression? just six bookings in 45 matches. Passing? completed 80% of his passes (may have lead the club). Threat from set pieces? Yup, James Chester scored three goals on the season. Moreover, he averaged over three aerials duels won per match.

Chester was the rock Villa relied on all season. He settled new teammates to the backline and consistently shut down opposing attacks.

Despite an on-loan goalkeeper, revolving door at right back, and signing of Neil Taylor at left back, Villa conceded by far the fewest goals from 2017 onward.

2017-2018 Prediction: James Chester is truly a Premier League-level central defender. There’s no reason the club captain does not return to his 2016/2017 form next campaign. The experienced partnership between Chester and Nathan Baker will push Villa towards a top-five defense once more.