With Villa’s superb start to this season’s campaign, nobody connected with the club has had to be overly concerned by the absence of star striker Christian Benteke, who is on the mend from injury, despite relying heavily on his goalscoring expertise in the past couple of years.
Does Benteke’s imminent return guarantee him a starting place? Given the start the side has had, would it be a brave or bold move to reintroduce Benteke into a team that is undoubtedly bursting with confidence?
If Lambert is to bring Benteke back into the fold, who will he replace? With Agbonlahor and Weimann both having scored two goals each already this season and fans enjoying the immense efforts of Kieran Richardson and an impressive start from Tom Cleverley, I think that it would be injustice for any player to be replaced so soon but, unfortunately, someone will have to make way for the Belgian Beast.
Without question, when Benteke is in the side the tactics are altered to long-ball, which is obviously not very enjoyable to watch. However, Villa’s new-look back four have a totally different approach this season. With composure a clear feature of the game, they have begun to pass the ball forward from the back, adding more width with adventurous and effective runs from full-backs Aly Cissokho and Alan Hutton, something which was almost non-existent when we drew on the services of Matt Lowton and Joe Bennett. Also, with the return of Charles N’Zogbia and the breakthrough of young starlet Jack Grealish, the Villans have had to play more of the ball to feet rather than to heads.
Would the team’s approach be altered if Benteke is to be reintroduced? Would a change of tactics cause the team’s excellent start to falter? None of us suspected we’d be debating whether or not to play Benteke but the form the team is revelling in at present means that this is an issue to consider. Is the long ball tactic the only method effective enough for Benteke to thrive on or can the Villans continue to get their heads down and play a little more football this season while involving the big man? I genuinely believe that Benteke can flourish in any style and anticipate that the momentum that has driven the team to second in the Premier League table will continue.
Until Benteke is ready to play, let’s enjoy the start we have had and look forward to even better things when our star man does return, all the while hoping that nothing will jeopardise the way the Villans play, whatever the manager decides is best.