Aston Villa suffered a fifth-consecutive league defeat at Queens Park Rangers on Monday night, as strikes from Charlie Austin either side of half-time saw the home side claim a 2-0 win.
One bright spot for Villa, however, was the performance of summer signing Carlos Sanchez, who, despite being culpable for the second goal after gifting the ball to the opposition, was the visitor’s standout performer at Loftus Road.
|Vs QPR||Total Tackles||Total Clearances||Duel Wons||Duel Success||Interceptions||Total Passes||Pass Acc||Balls Recovered||Mins|
Not only did the 28-year-old Colombian midfielder complete more passes than anyone on the pitch, but he also made the most tackles and won the most duels, adding a much-needed bite to the Claret and Blues.
Signed from Spanish outfit Elche in mid-August for a reported £4.7 million fee, Sanchez’s impressive World Cup performances in Brazil lead to high expectations upon his arrival at Villa Park, but he has had few chances to demonstrate his international pedigree thus far.
Monday’s fixture was just his second start in five league games, following a dismal display in last month’s 3-0 home defeat to Arsenal, but, with Fabian Delph sidelined for up to eight weeks after a shoulder operation, an extended run in the starting XI seems forthcoming.
Nicknamed “The Rock” due to his prowess in the holding role, the tenacious competitor earned comparisons to Chelsea legend Claude Makelele during his six seasons with Ligue 1’s Valenciennes before moving to La Liga last August, and once received global plaudits for marking Lionel Messi out of a 2011 Copa America match.
Paul Lambert’s side have been craving a midfielder with the South American’s skillset since former captain and fan favourite Stiliyan Petrov was forced to step away from the game after being diagnosed with acute leukaemia and, though Ashley Westwood has performed commendably since being forced to take on more defensive responsibilities last season, he is still not the man for the job.
After a slow start to life in the midlands, Sanchez's most recent performance suggests he might be the answer, but whether he is indeed a credible successor to Petrov or just another of Lambert's failed signings will become clearer over the coming months.