A look at how Ciaran Clark's past two seasons compare from a statistical angle.
Ciaran Clark might have started out this season on the fringes of the first-team squad after a difficult 2013-14 campaign, but the defender has since battle back to establish himself as one of Aston Villa’s top performers in recent weeks.
Clark, 25, made 28 total appearances for Villa last season, but his performances during another relegation-threatened campaign came in for considerable criticism from the claret and blue faithful.
With the signing of Philippe Senderos in the summer, the Republic of Ireland centre-back found himself fourth choice going into the new term, with captain Ron Vlaar and Nathan Baker also ahead of him in the pecking order, and a potential loan move elsewhere mooted, per the Birmingham Mail.
Injuries to all three forced him into action alongside Jores Okore for November’s 1-1 home draw with Southampton, however, and the former trainee hasn’t looked back since, establishing an excellent rapport with his Danish defensive partner while starting all but two games.
The top-flight statistics also make it clear how much Clark has come on in recent months, with his numbers across all the main areas, bar tackles per game, up from the previous season.
|Season||Errors Lead To Goal||Total Tackles GAME||Tackle Accuracy||Total Clearances GAME||Headers Won GAME||Header Success||Interceptions GAME||Passing Accuracy||Appearances||Mins Played|
With Tim Sherwood now replacing the beleaguered Paul Lambert in charge, it will be interesting to see what centre-back combination the former Tottenham Hotspur boss trots out for the visit of Stoke, with both Clark and Okore deserving of their places, despite the returning Vlaar starting over the latter for last week's 2-1 FA Cup win over Leicester.
In addition, both Senderos and Baker are nearing their respective returns after several weeks out, highlighting the fact that, while Villa might have seen their attacking struggles drop them into the relegation zone, defensive depth is far from an issue.
While skipper Vlaar appears all but set to depart in the summer when his contract expires, Sherwood can at least take comfort in the fact that, with the experienced Senderos and emerging trio of Clark, Baker and Okore, he has more than enough cover to compensate.