A barren run of seven games without a goal has seen Christian Benteke endure his longest spell without a goal since scoring 23 in all competitions for Aston Villa last season.
A hip injury sustained in the win against Norwich City in September saw him miss a month
of action, disrupting a promising start to the season where he seemed to pick up where he left off, scoring two in the win against Arsenal.
Sailing his only attempt at goal over the bar against Sunderland at the weekend, Benteke's pursuit of that ever-elusive drought-ending goal continues, but could a goal be all the 23-year-old Belgian needs to kick his season back into gear?
The striker began his Villa career in perfect fashion, scoring the second in a two-nil victory over Swansea in a performance where he was described by Villa manager Paul Lambert as ‘unplayable’.
He found no trouble in keeping that momentum going as it was predominately his exploits that saw Villa steer clear of relegation, a fate that for many was pre-determined for the West Midlands side, largely due to their lack of depth and experience within their squad, a possible consequence of not having the financial firepower of their Premier League counterparts.
There have been many strikers in Premier League history who have struggled to consistently contribute to their goalscoring accounts, going games on end before eventually breaking their duck.
The most recent high-profile example of this took place last season, as Robin van Persie went 10 domestic games without a goal before scoring a penalty in a two-nil victory against Stoke City.
The following week, the Dutchman single-handedly brushed aside Villa with a first-half hat-trick that secured Manchester United’s record-breaking 20th League title; a classic example of a single goal being the catalyst to re-igniting a striker's self-belief and ability to find the back of the net.
Making comparisons between Benteke and Van Persie would be premature at best, with both players at different stages of their careers at clubs that are worlds apart in many aspects, especially style of play. But in a young and resilient Villa side, why can’t Benteke do something in similar fashion?
At so early in his career, Benteke still has a whole career ahead of him that may see him score prolifically or sporadically; he is hardly the finished article. Villa's manager recently spoke of his start striker’s recent form, giving him his full support after stating that poor runs are to be expected.
He told reporters: “I've never seen a player who's always bang at it. Anybody in any walk of life has good days and bad. It builds up your character. When you set yourself that extraordinary standard and then you fall just a blip off it, it can be really noticeable. We just have to make sure we keep him at it.”
Possibly responding to fans demanding that Benteke be dropped in favor of Czech striker Libor Kozak, it appears Lambert is once again showing similar faith in the striker that made him justify the £7million price tag in what many considered a big gamble at the start of last season.
With the World Cup Finals looming in the distance, Benteke will be hoping to be firing on all cylinders, just as fellow Belgian front man Romelu Lukaku has been for Everton this season, in a bid to secure a place in leading the line in Brazil next June.
The remainder of the season will be a pivotal time in Benteke's young career, and Lambert will hope to instil a mental toughness to his star striker's game that will ultimately see him through times where goals are hard to come by, a lesson that all world class striker's learn at some point in their careers.
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