Friedel shares shut-out praise

Villa keeper keen to highlight team effort

Friedel: Sharing Villa plaudits

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Brad Friedel insists that points are more important than clean sheets as Aston Villa target a UEFA Champions League place.

The American goalkeeper is level with Chelsea's Petr Cech for the most shut-outs in the Premier League, with both boasting 11 so far this season.

Friedel has kept four clean sheets in a row in the league and eight in his last 10 games after Saturday's goalless draw at Tottenham.

But the veteran keeper stresses that the significance of Villa's excellent defensive record is overshadowed by the team's points tally.

Pride

"The real sense of pride is winning football matches," he told the Birmingham Mail.

"The stats of it don't come into play so much for us. We want to win football matches.

"When you can't win a football match then you don't want to lose it. You have to take the next best thing and at Tottenham we got the next best thing."

As well as that tally of clean sheets, Villa have conceded fewer goals than anyone else in this season's Premier League - just 18 in 24 matches ahead of Wednesday night's home clash against Manchester United.

While most of the praise for Villa's defensive record is showered on Friedel and the back four, the 38-year-old is keen to highlight the role played by their frontmen.

"Clean sheets are collective," he added. "It's not down to goalkeepers, it's collective defending.

Stopped at source

"Just look at the amount of times in the first half at Tottenham that we stopped service at source.

"We've got people like John Carew, Emile Heskey and Gabby Agbonlahor helping to do that and it sometimes goes unnoticed at times during the game.

"But myself and the back four, we definitely take notice because it's one less time you have to deal with 6ft 9in Peter Crouch and one less time you have Jermain Defoe getting the second ball off him.

"We appreciate it when strikers and midfielders stop it at source and we have something instilled in our team where everybody is willing to do that."