The last two seasons of action for Aston Villa have been a roller coaster from Saturday afternoon’s lows to Monday nights heights. The cars have chugged along the tracks with our arrow oscillating from pointing sky high to our form falling dreadfully low.
Since the second match of the 2016-2017 campaign, however, there has been one single solitary foundational element to our club that has been solid as stone and that’s our current captain, centre back James Chester.
Beginning with a matchweek two fixture at Villa Park against Rotherham where Chester replaced future line-mate and future-future foe Nathan Baker, Aston Villa have played 71 total matches in the Championship for a total of 6,390 minutes and James Chester has been afield for every single one of them proudly wearing the captains armband for the majority.
Chester’s reliability, leadership, and performance have all left a mark in his time with Villa. He formed a successful triumvirate last season with Baker and defensive midfielder Mile Jedinak, and when all three shared the pitch Villa enjoyed their most successful spells.
In spite of the success that those three enjoyed, over the summer Steve Bruce rallied the club around a very public pursuit of Chelsea legend John Terry whose eventual signing meant loosing Baker to Bristol City and pulling Chester’s well-earned captaincy.
If the point of this article were to be the efficacy of those moves, we could spare more than a few characters, but that’s not what I’m aiming at. The point of this article is to appreciate James Chester, who took the tack of a real leader, silently passing the band to Terry while keeping an eye on the big picture as Gregg Evans wrote about last fall.
It’s with great joy, therefore, that we’ve been able to see Chester continue his stellar Villa career at the back, performing as a solid duo with Terry, holding the fort with Chris Samba, and partnering in the return to form with Tommy Elphick. He’s even been giving us a bit more of a display over this season like shaking a striker against Burton in the fall—
ICYMI - James Chester just turning strikers for fun #PartOfThePride #AVFC pic.twitter.com/Q9mNIXFDWL— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) September 28, 2017
—and performing a magnificent backheel pass to Albert Adomah to generate a goal yesterday—
How about this touch to set us on our way for the second goal...— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) January 2, 2018
James Chester #PartOfThePride #AVFC pic.twitter.com/DOmLIBSNVo
—all the while saving goals from the last inch.
James Chester keeping the momentum on Aston Villas side. pic.twitter.com/jtwQ5i5P7b— Robb Jones (@robbjkjones) January 2, 2018
So hats off to you, James. With John Terry slated to return, it’s likely he’ll get the armband back, but if all goes according to plan, it’ll be yours when we kick off next year back where we belong and you can start doing for Premier League strikers what you’re doing for them in the Championship.