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Brad Guzan says Chelsea shouldn’t underestimate Villa captain Ron Vlaar

Mar 15, 2014, 6:58 AM EST

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Aston Villa first-choice goalkeeper Brad Guzan has started all 28 Premier League matches for Aston Villa this season. In other words, the 29-year-old knows what he’s talking about when it comes to his club – the lows, the highs and everything in between.

Something else that the USMNT keeper understands is just how vital defense is to a strong team. That’s why Guzan’s praise of Villa skipper Ron Vlaar, and his emphasis that the Dutchman will be vital as his side host Chelsea on Saturday, should not be taken lightly.

Guzan said, “Ron a big player for us, no doubt about it. He’s an established centre-half and a Dutch international so his quality is there for all to see. He brings leadership, organisation and experience when he plays. To have him in the team every time he plays is huge for us.”

Vlaar, 28, has struggled with injury at times this season, and his absence has only reinforced just how much Villa rely on their captain. Their other centerbacks, Nathan Baker and Ciaran Clark, are both still young, and Vlaar’s experience and guidance are what helps the Villa defense stand strong.

Guzan, too, hails Vlaar’s leadership abilities:  He has that presence. He’s commanding. He has that aura. He’s a good talker in there at centre-half. He leads by example. He’s a good skipper too. He has taken that responsibility on well. The lads respect him greatly.”

While it’s not rare to find stories of teammates praising one another, these words from Guzan are more than mere filler from the club’s official website. They reflect and expand upon what almost every Aston Villa fan knows: Vlaar is absolutely essential to the side’s success. Without the captain, Villa have lost five out of six times this season, only getting a point from a draw with Swansea.

And no, Ron Vlaar was not in the side when Chelsea beat Villa 8-0 in December 2012. Sorry, Chelsea fans.

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