Benteke return can lift Aston Villa after back-to-back defeats
Defeats to Arsenal and Chelsea apart, Aston Villa have had a fine beginning to the Premier League campaign. Finally, there have been signs that the West Midlands outfit may not be perpetual strugglers under Paul Lambert.
As such, Christian Benteke has hardly been missed. The big Belgian striker sat out the World Cup in Brazil through a ruptured Achilles tendon, but has now resumed full training and could feature as the Villans host Premier League champions Manchester City when next in action.
Lambert is weighing up whether to give Benteke his comeback then, however. “We’ll see how he does this week. He’s been back for a fortnight now,” the Villa boss said. “You’ve got to remember he’s been out for five months and has only been in full training for two weeks.
“I’ll have that dialogue with him. We’ll see how he feels. If we think he’s justified to go in with his fitness levels then that’s something that myself and the staff will decide.
“First and foremost I don’t think there’s any pressure on him. You don’t heap pressure on somebody that’s just coming back from that injury.”
With Benteke sidelined since April, Austria attacker Andreas Weimann and Villa clubman Gabriel Agbonlahor have taken it in turns to lead the attack. They’ve a couple of goals each, and that tally has been sufficient to put Villa sixth on 10 points, two ahead of big spenders Manchester United and Tottenham after half a dozen games.
Fluidity in the final third has certainly been a tactic that has served Lambert well so far this season. When Benteke returns, Villa can be expected to play around and up to him as a focal point, though at his best he pulls into the channels and lets fly.
Although his manager insists the pressure is off, fans will hope Benteke can rediscover the form of his sensational first season in England’s top-flight. Hitting 19 goals in 34 Premier League games back in 2012/13, he struggled to reach those heights last term. Getting into double figures before his debilitating injury was still respectable mind.
Villa need Benteke back to his mobile and predatory best if they are to maintain their strong start to this campaign. Attractive odds of 10/3 say he will mark his return against City by scoring against them.