Why there's no obvious answer to Sherwood's big selection dilemma at Villa

Aston Villa have failed to find a regular defensive pairing all season.

One of Tim Sherwood's first tasks at Aston Villa will be to settle upon a central defensive partnership that he can build his team around.

Villa have struggled to build a stable defensive pairing all season, with injuries and poor form meaning that Paul Lambert generally rotated his central defenders.

Jores Okore, Ciaran Clarke, Nathan Baker, Philippe Senderos and Ron Vlaar have all been handed regular game time this campaign, but Villa's inability to select a consistent pairing has had a detrimental impact on their season.

Although it is the Claret and Blues' offensive problems which have been heavily focused on, it would be wrong to suggest that all is fine in a defensive sense and Sherwood needs to find a back four which he is happy with. 

Doing so looks a tough ask, but judging by the statistics Okore is the standout member of Villa's defensive candidates. 

  PositionTeamTackles per gameHeaders won per gameInterceptions per gameClearances per gameBlocks per gameAppearancesMins Played
Jores Okore DF Aston Villa 1.92 2.14 2.85 6.5 0.71 14 1199
Ciaran Clark DF Aston Villa 1.58 2.58 1.94 8.11 0.76 17 1369
Nathan Baker DF Aston Villa 1.25 3 1.75 9.75 1 8 572
Philippe Senderos DF Aston Villa 0.875 0.75 1.125 6 1.125 8 632
Ron Vlaar DF Aston Villa 0.66 1.08 1.91 5.91 0.58 12 927

The youngster has impressed with his powerful performances at the heart of the Midlands side's defence and his figures in a number of key areas have been hugely impressive.

Okore has made more tackles and interceptions than any other Villa defender and it highlights just how exciting a prospect he is.

The dilemma for Sherwood comes in who to pick alongside the 22-year-old. Vlaar looks the obvious choice but, with the defender's contract up at the end of the season, there will be concerns over his commitment to their cause.

Senderos, Clarke and Baker, meanwhile, all have their faults but Sherwood will need to identify the one he trusts the most quickly, as finding a reliable centre-back pairing could be just as important for Villa as getting Christian Benteke firing again.

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