Date: 3rd September 2008 at 8:42pm
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Brad Friedel has said that Stiliyan Petrov is a key figure in Villa’s quests for multiple clean sheets this season.

Speaking on the official site, Friedel (in a stating the bleedin obvious moment) explained that defending starts from the front but more importantly that the resurgent form of Petrov in his holding midfield role cannot be underestimated.

‘The defensive unit received a lot of praise after the 0-0 with Liverpool but I think Stiliyan Petrov deserves real credit too.

‘Defending is not only about a goalkeeper and four defenders. It starts from the front. Stiliyan is exceptional at breaking up the opponent’s attack at source, before it reaches the back four.

‘People can make their own assessments on the last game and a lot have, insisting that Rafa Benitez was too negative. But I think we deserve a lot of credit for making it very difficult for them.

‘We got out of the blocks against Manchester City. We had a lot of changes for that game personnel-wise and then we had the disappointment of Stoke.

‘And then our most solid defensive display came against Liverpool, culminating in our clean sheet.

‘It wasn’t just the fact we picked up a clean sheet. I was more pleased with the fact that we limited a tremendous attacking force to very few chances. That’s the most pleasing aspect.

‘We can build on that. We assessed our performance against Stoke and made great strides defensively against Liverpool. Long may that continue.’

Long may that continue indeed Brad. Leaking goals last season cost us 5th place undoubtedly and O’Neill has worked hard this transfer window to fortify our defence.

If the midfield, Petrov alone or not, keep chasing back, hassling and breaking up the play our defence will have a much easier life.

So far this season it seems our inconsistencies lie in a great attack = dodgy defence or great defence = dodgy attack.

Won’t it be fun when everyone is firing on all cylinders.