Aston Villa player ratings 2014-15: Ciaran Clark the clear star but several flops

Trinity Road Stand - Aston Villa

How have the Aston Villa players fared so far this season? We had a go at rating every member of the squad.

GOALKEEPERS

Brad Guzan – 7

Guzan hasn’t quite been able to replicate his outstanding 2013-14 season, having made a few blunders this term, but the American shot-stopper has still proved a strong presence in between the posts.

Shay Given – 7

Given has once again been restricted to cup action this season, earning just five starts, but his performances during the club’s run to the FA Cup semi-finals have shown that, even at 38, he still has a lot to offer.

However, having stressed that he needs regular first-team football in order to prolong his international career, it remains to be seen how much longer he’ll be sticking around Villa Park.

DEFENDERS

Alan Hutton – 7.5

This season has marked a remarkable turnaround for Hutton, who has gone from an unwanted wage-drainer to one of Villa’s most reliable performers.

Having failed to make a single appearance for the club during Paul Lambert’s first two seasons in charge, the Scot looked all but set to leave in the summer until being brought back into the fold after a move to West Bromwich Albion was blocked - as reported by the Daily Mirror.

Since making 29 total appearances, while adding a goal and assist, the former Tottenham Hotspur man even penned a new deal until 2017 in September and seen the since-departed Lambert label him the Premier League’s best right-back in the Birmingham Mail.

Matthew Lowton – 6.5

Lowton had few opportunities to prove himself over the first half of the season until defensive injuries following Tim Sherwood’s arrival forced him to deputise in an unfamiliar left-back role.

Since making four starts at the position, his performances have been a welcome surprise and, though he missed the 1-0 defeat to Swansea with a knock, he should get a few more chances to prove his worth during the final run in.

Ron Vlaar – 6

After his starring World Cup performances, there were big expectations for Vlaar going into the season but things have not gone at all to plan since.

While Villa managed to fend off reported interest in his signature, the Dutchman has since seen injuries and suspension limit him to just 14 total appearances, while he last featured over five weeks ago when he was sent off after conceding a late spot-kick in the 2-1 defeat to Stoke.

Out of contract in the summer, talks over a new deal have continued to stall and, given the emergence of Clark and Okore, his future could well lie elsewhere.

Philippe Senderos – 6.5

There was a fair amount of scepticism surrounding Senderos’ summer signing, due to his less-than-glittering reputation in England, but the former Arsenal centre-back proceeded to prove a few of his doubters wrong during the first few months of the campaign with some solid performances.

He hasn’t been seen since getting injured while with Switzerland in November, however, and it’s still unclear whether he’ll even return before the end of the season at this point.

Nathan Baker – 7

Baker’s situation is somewhat similar to Senderos’. After a difficult 2013-14 season, the former trainee impressed while deputising for the injured Vlaar during the initial stages of the campaign but has featured just once since November do to an ongoing knee problem.

Ciaran Clark – 8.5

Clark started out the season as Villa’s fourth-choice centre-back but was brought back into the fold in November when Vlaar, Senderos and Baker all went down with injuries.

The Republic of Ireland international hasn’t looked back since, starting all but two games and establishing himself as the current fans’ choice for the club’s Player of the Season award.

Jores Okore – 7.5

Okore was still coming back from ligament damage going into the season and, as a result, didn’t feature until starting November’s 1-1 home draw with Southampton alongside Clark.

The pair have since struck of a fantastic rapport in the heart of defence and, while the Dane hasn’t quite been as impressive as his centre-back partner, his form has been more than encouraging.

Aly Cissokho – 6

Arriving from Valencia in the summer, Cissokho proved a solid, if unspectacular, contributor in Lambert’s side, starting all but one league game.

The Frenchman leaves a lot to be desired going forward, however, while he’s featured just once since Sherwood’s appointment due to a nagging groin problem.

MIDFIELDERS

Fabian Delph – 6.5

After his breakout 2013-14 campaign, Delph’s progress had been somewhat disrupted earlier this term, with the England midfielder missing eight weeks of action with a dislocated shoulder, before picking up a straight red card in just his fourth game back.

His form has been on the rise since Sherwood’s arrival, however, scoring his first goal of the season in the 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final win over West Bromwich Albion, while he has also been captaining the team in the absence of usual skipper Vlaar.

Tom Cleverley – 5.5

The Manchester United-owned midfielder arrived at Villa Park in September with the hopes of revitalising his stagnating career but his performances under Lambert were so poor that the Scot even had to refute suggestions that he was being forced to start him due to a clause in the loan agreement in the Daily Mail.

He’s made some drastic steps forward in recent weeks but it’s still not quite been enough to forget just how underwhelming he was up until March.

Ashley Westwood – 7

Westwood has been one of the more underrated members of the Villa squad this season and he can count himself unfortunate to have lost his place in the line-up since the recent switch to Sherwood’s favoured 4-4-2 formation.

He’s far from the flashiest customer but, in a campaign when several of the club’s midfielders have underwhelmed, he deserves some plaudits.

Carlos Sanchez – 6.5

After a slow start to his Villa career, Sanchez was arguably the club’s star man between November and January, until a poor performance in the 5-0 defeat at Arsenal saw him dropped from the line-up.

He hasn’t been back in the starting XI since but fans shouldn’t forget how solid he was over the course of the winter.

Kieran Richardson – 5.5

The versatile Richardson started the first eight league games of the season in various different midfield roles but has been a bit-part contributor since and out injured for the past five matches.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s hard to remember him making much of an impact when on the pitch.

Charles N’Zogbia – 6

After missing the entire 2013-14 campaign with an Achilles problem, N’Zogbia had had been expected to leave the club in the summer, along with fellow “Bomb Squad” members Bent and Hutton.

While the trio were granted a reprieve, the creative midfielder failed to make the most of his second chance under Lambert and fell out of first-team contention in the months leading up to the Scot’s sacking after 17 unproductive appearances.

He has since been welcomed back into Tim Sherwood’s side, however, and looked much-improved in four consecutive starts, showing flashes of the form which earned him a £9 million move from Wigan Athletic in 2011.

Nevertheless, one gets the sense that he can still offer a lot more.

Joe Cole – 5

Few expected much from the aging Cole when he arrived at Villa Park in June and he‘s done little to prove his doubters wrong since either.

After getting injured in preseason, the former Chelsea star has been fighting a constant fitness battle and made just five starts in 12 total appearances.

There have been the odd flashes of skill but, at this stage, it looks like his legs have gone.

Jack Grealish – 6.5

Grealish has been hailed as one of the league’s most exciting prospects since making his first-team breakthrough at the start of the season, earning rave reviews from four top-flight cameos and one League Cup start, before penning a new long-term deal in October.

He appeared set for a significant role in Lambert’s side at the time but the following months saw the teenager winger restricted to just 114 minutes of league action and a loan move mooted.

He hasn’t featured much under Sherwood either but, on the rare occasions that he has been given a 30-minute cameo, the Birmingham-native has given observers a clear glimpse of his enormous potential.

Leandro Bacuna – 6.5

Bacuna found himself on the fringes of the first-team over the first half of the season, earning just seven top-fight outings for a total of 184 minutes.

Much like Grealish, however, the versatile Dutchman has shown clear flashes of attacking flair when on the pitch and proved a more than capable stand-in right-back in recent weeks when deputising for the suspended Alan Hutton.

After three consecutive starts, it remains to be seen whether he will keep his place in the line-up moving forward but Sherwood is at least aware of the value he brings now.

Carles Gil – 7

Signed from Valencia in the transfer window, Gil made an immediate impact during his first weeks in England, scoring a speculator full debut goal in the 2-1 FA Cup win over Bournemouth, before setting up Jores Okore in the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea to help end the club’s 11-hour goal drought.

While his introduction didn’t manage to turn around Villa’s dismal league form, with the club tasting defeat in each of his first five top-flight appearances, his performances suggested that he was set to prove a major factor in their bid to avoid the drop.

Nevertheless, the Spaniard lasted just 58 minutes into Sherwood’s first game in charge against Stoke before being hauled off and, for whatever reason, he hasn’t been back in the line-up since.

It’s disappointing to see, given the initial promise he showed, but the new boss just seems to prefer both N’Zogbia and Sinclair out wide at the moment.

Scott Sinclair – 7

Unlike his fellow winter addition, Sinclair has been able to make an impact under Sherwood, grabbing three goals in his last six games to help spark the club’s mini revival.

With the club having the option to make his loan spell from Manchester City permanent at the end of the season, according to the Daily Star, a long-term future at Villa Park looks to be on the cards.

FORWARDS

Christian Benteke – 6

After returning from a ruptured Achilles tendon in October, Benteke scored just three times in 19 total appearances under Paul Lambert, with his performances paling in comparison to his goalscoring exploits during the previous two seasons.

The arrival of Sherwood has led to a noticeable upturn in form, however, with the powerful Belgian since netting four times in four matches as part of a two-forward formation with Agbonlahor.

He’s still not quite back to his old self but things look to be on the up following a few difficult months.

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 6

Agbonlahor endured considerable criticism for managing a mere three goals in his first 23 games this season but, like strike-partner Benteke, a new formation has led to much better results.

The long-serving striker has scored three goals in the past four games and is proving that shifting him out wide onto the wing just wasn’t the answer.

Andreas Weimann – 5

Weimann seemed primed for a solid season after netting twice in the opening three league games but it’s been a constant struggle since.

The Austrian has found the back of the net just twice in the last 29 matches and hasn’t made the line-up under Sherwood.

While still just 23, the chances of him developing into a serviceable Premier League striker look to be evaporating fast.

Darren Bent – 4

Bent was given another chance to prove himself at Villa in pre-season with Benteke still rehabbing but the following months produced no starts and just seven brief cameos for a total of 83 minutes.

He’s since been out on loan at Brighton & Hove Albion and Derby County and, with his contract expiring in the summer, looks set to head elsewhere.

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch