7 clearances, 5 interceptions: James Chester impresses on his Aston Villa debut

Leicester City's Marc Albrighton in action with West Brom's James Chester

The 27-year-old centre-back started Saturday's 3-0 home win over Rotherham United just a day after completing his move from West Bromwich Albion.

Wales' James Chester in action with Belgium's Eden Hazard

James Chester ended up having to wait just 24 hours before making his Aston Villa debut on Saturday, playing the full 90 minutes as Roberto Di Matteo’s men beat Rotherham United 3-0 in their first home game of the season.

The 27-year-old Wales defender only joined the club on Friday afternoon from Midlands neighbours West Bromwich Albion for an undisclosed fee, but Nathan Baker’s absence for the Millers clash through injury meant he was thrown straight into the line-up after being put through just half a training session with the rest of the squad.

The quick turnaround did not seem to have a detrimental effect on his performance, though, as the 17-times capped international immediately formed a rock solid partnership with skipper Tommy Elphick in the heart of the backline.

He barely appeared to put a foot wrong throughout afternoon, only really running into some minor trouble due to a few communication problems with goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini, and did an excellent job of ensuring that Rotherham mustered just one shot on target over the course of the match.

What’s more, he also managed to put up some impressive defensive statistics in the process, making five interceptions, two recoveries and the joint-most clearances of the game with seven, while also blocking two shots and winning four aerial duels.

Vs Rotherham Total ShotsShots OntargetOutfielder BlocksTotal ClearancesAerial Duels WonHeader SuccessInterceptionsBall RecoveriesTotal PassesPassing AccuracyTouchesMins Played
James Chester 1 0 2 7 4 44.44% 5 2 28 61% 1 90

The clean sheet was certainly much deserved when all was said and done, and manager Di Matteo was rightly quick to praise his performance after the final whistle.

“It wasn’t easy for him. It was his debut after half a training session,” the Italian told the club’s official website after the match. “I took a calculated risk in that but you can see today the reasons why I tried very hard to sign him.

“He’s an out and out defender and also has a calm influence on the others around him. We hope he will have a good season with us.”

Leicester City's Marc Albrighton in action with West Brom's James Chester

Now expected to remain Elphick’s first-choice centre-back partner going forward, Chester’s next appearance for Villa will likely come on Tuesday night when they welcome Huddersfield Town to B6 in a game that could seem them record back-to-back wins for the first time since May 2015.

The former Hull City star has already enjoyed success in the Championship after helping the Tigers secure promotion in 2013 and that experience should ultimately prove vital to the club’s efforts to make an immediate return to the top-flight.

Certainly, if he can go on to replicate the performances he produced during Wales' run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals earlier this summer, Villa fans will be more than delighted.

Manchester United's Jesse Lingard in action with West Brom's James Chester

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch