The fact that Aston Villa's defense kept another clean sheet was lost amidst the joy of the unlikely win against Chelsea on Saturday. It was their eighth of the season and came against a Chelsea squad who have scored more goals than any other team in the league save the mind-boggling prolific Manchester City and Liverpool. It is slowly, but surely, becoming apparent that the back line is the club's best asset, as Ron Vlaar, Brad Guzan, and a rotating cast of characters keep the club in matches when the offense is doing nothing.
I was curious, though. How have the Villa defenders compared against those of other Premier League clubs. So I took a look at the last four matches for every team, through Saturday's results. The answer is that in that span, Villa have been in the upper echelon of the league, having allowed only .5 goals per match in that time. That ties them with Chelsea and Manchester United and leaves them behind only Manchester City, who have allowed only one goal in their past four matches. As a whole, the Premier League have averaged 1.31 goals per match in their last four matches. (105 allowed by all teams.)
Those impressive numbers come against competition that, while not exactly prolific, isn't too lacking either. Chelsea, Norwich City, Newcastle United, and Cardiff City have combined for a total of 140 goals this season, or 35 per club. That's against a league average of 38.7 per club (as of Saturday night). The Chelsea clean sheet looks most impressive of the recent results, but the fact that Villa held Newcastle to one and Cardiff City to none on the road is also a testament to the staunchness of the defense.
Villa's defense are clearly above average, and they are quickly becoming one of the best units in the entire league. They're not quite there yet, but it's further proof of the formidability of the back line as the club begin to look at what they will look like next season.
UPDATE: With Sunday's matches in the books, Manchester United have dropped out of the top four (allowing 3 to Liverpool will do that do you), but Arsenal's clean sheet against Tottenham have vaulted them into the top four. The league average in the last four matches has dropped to 1.26, which Aston Villa are still clearly above. I was waiting to do this until this weekend's matches were over, but here is a table of goals allowed in the last four matches for the entire league. Match 1 is the most recent match:
|Team||Match 1||Match 2||Match 3||Match 4||Average|
|West Ham United||3||1||1||0||1.25|
|West Bromwich Albion||1||3||1||1||1.5|
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