What’s Ciaran Clark and Nathan Bakers problem?
Paul Lambert hasn’t had much luck when it comes to his centre backs. The improving Ron Vlaar is injury prone and has missed both of Villa’s taxing Christmas periods, while Jores Okore pretty much had his first season with the Villa wiped out by injury too. It’s left Lambert having to rely on Villa academy graduate duo of Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker to plug the holes. Both have had moments of brilliance, but have also shown their inexperience when playing together.
You can guess the defensive stats with and without Vlaar, and the improvement he instantly brings to the team’s rearguard.
Clark is 24 and has had 84 appearances in a Villa shirt, while Nathan Baker at 22, has 54 games under his belt. Some supporters would argue that this is experience enough. I think you can have few complaints about either of them, when one of them plays alongside Vlaar at the back, but together their eagerness to impress can often lead to naivety and rashness without a more experienced head alongside them.
When Clark and Baker are together, there’s also the problem – as the adage goes – of having two left feet…literally.
“It affects the balance with the two left-footers playing centre-half. It’s not ideal,” said Villa boss Paul Lambert, after the West Ham game. “They are not naturally right-footed and Jores and Ron being out is a bit of a blow.
It’s certainly a core reason behind some of the uncertainty they have as a pairing, as you cannot question their heart or effort.
To be perfectly honest, Ron Vlaar was no great shakes last season, and Lambert has also noticed the improvement he’s brought to Villa’s rearguard with his presence this season.
“I think it took him a little bit of time to adjust to the Premier League but I think this year he has been very good,” said the Villa boss.
“He also gives you the balance, that’s the big thing, he gives you that and he’s been round the block so knows what the game entails and it was a blow for him not to play.”
At the start of the season, the player that MOMS mooted to make the biggest impact to improving the Villa team was Jores Okore. He was also the new signing we were most looking forward to see play. His unfortunate injury, in our book, has robbed us with the chance to kick-on a bit faster this season (rather than standing still). However, if as reports continually suggest, he’ll be back in March, then that’s something to really look forward to.
Hopefully, tonight against Cardiff, Vlaar will be back (50-50) and Villa won’t need two left feet again. UTV