Vlaar from perfect - Aston Villa need more from their captain in 2013/14

Whilst most will be relieved to have avoided another embarrassing pre-season loss to a lower league side, some Aston Villa fans will still be concerned at another game without a clean sheet.

Far too many goals were conceded by the young Villa defence last season as they conceded 69 league goals, an unwanted club record. Whilst mush emphasis was put on the inexperience of this defence the glue meant to bind them was perhaps one of the biggest underperformers - Ron Vlaar.

The positive news for Villains is that the captain acknowledges he needs to improve, recently saying: “I want to be better in personal battles, I want to win more headers, I want to make less mistakes."

"Concrete Ron" has been very good at standing up to some of the Premier League's best strikers and has been a breath of fresh air in playing the ball out of defence rather than the obvious punt upfield for Benteke.

As the elder statesman of the Villa defence Vlaar was given the captain's armband and expected to marshal the backline. This is where the biggest concern of the coming season is.

The majority of goals conceded last season were down to bad positioning and that is where Ron Vlaar was supposed to excel, but time after time the captain was unable to command the sieve-like backline and goals were leaked.

For Aston Villa to kick on this season a good understanding will be required of the defence, but the cracks are still there. Luton Town's second goal against Villa saw no communication at all from Ron Vlaar and Ciaran Clark - the two of them colliding to allow the conference side to walk the ball into the 18 yard box and slip the ball past Guzan.

The captain will need to lead by example this season and that will mean better communication so as to avoid a repeat of one of the biggest shocks in Aston Villa history when they lost over two legs to League Two side, Bradford City.

Aston Villa had the lion's share of possession in that tie but were undone by lapse defending from set pieces - two of those Bradford goals coming from headers whilst Ron Vlaar was ball watching.

Most will agree that if Lambert can sort out the defence, with Ron Vlaar recapturing the form that saw him win the Eredivisie with Feyenoord, Aston Villa will rattle a few cages this season.

image: © Ben Sutherland

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