Christian Benteke: Arsenal's missing link?
Arsenal opinion: Benteke's mercurial performances make him perfect for Arsenal
During Manchester City’s narrow 1-0 win away to Aston Villa, Villa were hard done by as an error by Ciaran Clark saw Edin Dzeko pounce and tee up Carlos Tevez for a simple yet composed finish. Villa however truly deserved more from the game, inspired in no small part by their no. 20 Christian Benteke.
The Belgian forward was a thorn in City’s flesh from start to finish, winning header after header (and even having one cleared off the line by Tevez), dropping deep or to either flank to help link up play, interchanging positions with Gabriel Agbonlahor; the only thing missing from his performance was a goal.
This has been more or less the story of his season, with 11 goals and four assists in 25 Premier League appearances. With Aston Villa having scored a paltry 26 goals in the league, this means the Belgian has scored 42% of the club’s goals, and has been involved in 58% of them (19 of 26 goals). He is by far their top-scorer, joint top on assists as well (with Charles N’Zogbia), and pretty much their main man. He epitomizes what Arsenal do not have in their squad currently, and that is a capable, all-round centre-forward.
First of all, it can be argued that Arsenal have only one recognised central striker and that is Olivier Giroud. A case can be made for Lukas Podolski but the German has been primarily used on the left wing both at club and international level. And while Giroud has his strengths, particularly his link-up play, potent aerial threat and ability to hold up the ball; he is not an all-round forward. He has been lacking in crucial areas such as dribbling, and playing with the ball at his feet. He also isn’t nearly as fast as most other players in his position. Another factor that may count against him is that he doesn’t pose as much a goal threat as a Robin van Persie or a Jermain Defoe either.
With this season seemingly already added to the previous seven trophy-less seasons before it, the summer transfer window might see a rebuilding period for the Gunners. Why not start here?
A striker in the mould of Benteke would do them a world of good. He poses more of a genuine goal threat; his movement would be instrumental in aiding the already very fluid Gunners attack and might help bring out the best in the likes of Theo Walcott and indeed Podolski himself. This would be possible due to Benteke’s tendency to switch positions with team-mates, thus his movement would allow the likes of Theo and Podolski get into more central areas. He would also be a welcome addition to Arsenal’s style of football. And should they want to mix and match their style of play, Benteke has won an average of 8.4 aerial duels per game and so wouldn’t do so badly off in the route one department either. A viable option for the summer perhaps then, Mr. Wenger?
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