Impressed Andreas Weimann insists Ron Vlaar is the major catalyst for Villa's defensive solidity this season.
Skipper Vlaar, of course, missed a proportion of his first campaign in claret and blue due to a series of niggling injuries.
Villa's stopping skills weren't their strong point in that topsy-turvy term but this season's meanness would make Ebenezer Scrooge proud.
Weimann thinks a fit and ferocious Vlaar in the centre of defence is a major reason for the team's stinginess.
He said: "Ron looks so strong and assured. He epitomises the solidity in the team.
"He's our captain and the guy everyone looks up to. I think he's been brilliant this season, very inspirational.
"He has played all of the matches this season and been outstanding.
"He has everything you want in a defender. He's huge, he's a good header, he tackles strongly, he's quick in a one-on-one, he's got good distribution and he is comfortable on the ball in possession.
"He's an inspirational captain too. He always gives us words of encouragement in the huddle before the game. He gets us going.
"He's very approachable as a person too. If you have any issues, you can go up to him and he will listen to you. He respects all of the players. He is a big help in the dressing room.
"He has Ciaran and Nathan next to him. Both have really matured. Whichever one plays, you know you can trust them. They are reliable. They have let no-one down.
"They have excelled this season already.
"We have more steel in the team this season. We are still a threat going forward too. That shows the progress we have made as a team.
"We have a good return - 14 points - considering some of the games we have had against the big teams like Arsenal and Man City and Chelsea.
"We could have had a few more but we won't complain. We have started well. We're happy. It's going well.
"We have to keep the form up and get as many points on the board as we can now into the festive period."
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