Aston Villa midfielder Idrissa Gana receives high praise from teammate Aly Cissokho

Trinity Road Stand - Aston Villa

The summer signing from Lille has been an ever-present in the Premier League under Remi Garde.

Aston Villa defender Aly Cissokho believes Idrissa Gana’s “stability” in central midfield has been one of the chief reasons for the club’s recent upturn in form.

Gana, 26, joined Villa from French side Lille last summer for a fee believed to be around £9 million and has since made 25 total appearances for the club, while netting his first goal in English football in the 2-0 FA Cup third round replay win over League Two’s Wycombe Wanderers last month.

The Senegal international has started all but one of Remi Garde’s 17 games in charge since the Frenchman replaced Tim Sherwood as manager in November, but he struggled to produce a consistent run of form during the first half of the season while getting to grips with the demands of the Premier League.

However, his energetic displays over recent weeks have been key to helping Villa pick up eight points from their past five top-flight matches, and that fact has not been lost on Cissokho.

Speaking to the club’s official website about his industrious teammate, the left-back said: “It is his first year in the Premier League and this season has not been easy, but I think he does the job well and he is getting better.

“He is getting experience with games. Next season he will have more experience of English football.

“He has a lot of energy, good technique and he brings stability. He has aggression. He is small but he is very good physically and he is a good player.

“I'm happy to play with this kind of player.”

2015-16 Premier League GoalsAssistsKey PassesPassing AccuracyTotal Tackles MINSTackle AccuracyDuels Won MINSDuel SuccessInterceptions MINSTouches MINSAppearancesMins Played
Idrissa Gana 0 0 17 85% 22.53 78% 10.94 58% 22.27 1.17 22 1,915
Ashley Westwood 0 1 27 83% 49 81% 33.36 38% 56 1.33 19 1,568
Jordan Veretout 0 4 35 82% 55.42 73% 21.19 45% 62.65 1.3 19 1,441
Carlos Sánchez 0 0 3 80% 25.46 66% 13.22 56% 27.47 1.32 15 1,044

Gana, who has 29 Senegal caps to his name, made 176 total appearances for Lille following his professional debut in 2010, recording a career-high four goals and three assists in Ligue 1 last term after moving into a more advanced role.

Previously compared to ex-Chelsea star Ramires in playing style, the deep-lying midfielder has not been able to contribute much in the final third for Villa so far, but he has put up some impressive defensive statistics in the meantime.

In his 22 Premier League games, the summer signing has made the fourth-most tackles in the division with 85 and the second-most interceptions with 86, while also winning the fifth-most duels with 174 – figures which place him among the top-performing defensive midfielders in Europe.

He is certainly still prone to committing a few too many sloppy giveaways in the centre of the park, but even those have become less frequent over the past few matches.

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