Villa v Tottenham stats: Clark proving to be defensive rock
Andre Villas-Boas' team will be the favourites with many to bounce back from their shock 3-0 defeat at the hands of West Ham.However, in general Villa have thrived upon facing the big clubs already this season and have come up with a couple of giant-killings of their own.
The Villans have certainly found their feet in front of goal, picking up where they left off last season, scoring seven of their nine league goals in the current campaign in the second half of matches. Meanwhile, though Tottenham have let in just five league goals all season, four of the efforts that Spurs have conceded have come after half-time, with all of those netted in the final 30 minutes of matches.
Only table-toppers Arsenal have scored more goals in that period than Paul Lambert's men this season (5). Therefore if the hosts can keep the game in the balance going into the last half an hour they will fancy their chances, buoyed by the Villa Park faithful who will be in full voice after the last home victory over Manchester City.
Tottenham's struggles in front of goal in the league will give the home side more reason for optimism with only the division's bottom five sides scoring fewer (6). Villas-Boas' side have netted just twice away from home, with their three matches on the road thus far all ending in 1-0 score lines. Villa will hope that if that trend continues the result falls in their favour having kept clean sheets in two of their last three league matches.
One man who has shone in recent weeks, playing no small part in the side's stronger performances at the back, is Ciaran Clark. With Jores Okore sidelined the Republic of Ireland international is forging an impressive partnership with captain Ron Vlaar, culminating in a man of the match rating from WhoScored.com of 8.7 (out of 10) last time out against Hull.
The 24-year old made a massive 23 clearances in the stalemate at the KC Stadium, which is at least four more than any other Premier League player has made in a single match this season. In addition he produced four tackles, won four aerial duels and mustered three attempts at goal in a superb all-round performance.
Having made two of his six appearances from the bench this season it's important to consider the number of minutes Clark has played when analysing his defensive output thus far. Of all players with at least four appearances this season only three have played fewer minutes per clearance (8.3), while just six have blocked an opponent's shot more often (every 63.7 minutes).
Such statistics have helped the young centre-back pick up a WhoScored.com strength when it comes to blocking the ball, along with ball interceptions, and his style of play shows that Clark clears the ball out of defence often. The Villa youth graduate's impressive standings don't end there however, and of all centre-backs to start at least three matches this season only six have a better success rate in aerial duels than the Villa man's 76.5%.
It's clear that if Spurs are to find their attacking flow in the league they'll have to get past a defender bang in form in Clark. Meanwhile, with Gabby Agbonlahor and Christian Benteke returning to fitness the hosts should be able to give their visitors plenty to worry about at the other end.
Find yet more statistics on Aston Villa and the rest of the Premier League, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings at WhoScored.com. Follow @WhoScored and their editor-in-chief @martinlaurence7 on Twitter.