Aston Villa fans will be singing Christian Benteke's praises as their star striker is back in contention for tonight’s game against Crystal Palace after completing a three-match ban received after a red card against Tottenham last month.
With goals few and far between for the Villans, his return will be welcomed warmly by the Villa faithful and will offer a much needed presence up front that has been sorely missed this season.
The crown jewel in Villa’s not-so-potent attack, Benteke had only just returned from a six-month spell on the sidelines with a ruptured Achilles tendon before his second half bust-up with Spurs midfielder Ryan Mason, which led to his dismissal by referee Neil Swarbrick.
Further delaying the Belgian forward’s chances to gather momentum and ultimately affecting Villa’s ability to threaten in front of goal, Benteke’s absence has left Villa looking like they are all out of ideas as they struggle to create chances.
With only seven goals after 13 matches, the addition of the 23-year-old striker will surely be utilised to the fullest by Villa manager Paul Lambert as they look to avenge defeats in both games last season against the Eagles.
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Palace team news
Neil Warnock’s men are enjoying a decent run of form, having built on the 3-1 win against Liverpool two weeks ago, salvaging a 1-1 draw at Swansea this past weekend.
They will be without young forward Dwight Gale, who left the game against the Swans early due to injury, joining defenders Damien Delaney and Adrian Mariappa with respective calf and knee injuries.
Villa’s last win also came in a 1-0 win against Brendan Rogers’ side, but Lambert’s men failed to build on that momentum. A barren run of six defeats and three draws later, the Villans find themselves two places behind Palace on the ladder in 16th, both with 13 points after 13 games.
Benteke to make instant impact?
After a turbulent week at Villa Park that saw Roy Keane vacate his position as Paul Lambert’s number two, the Scot endured chants from the travelling Villa support at Burnley, calling for his dismissal as his men were found clinging onto a point in a 1-1 draw that saw them dominate the early stages of the game.
As Villa look at the undesirable prospect of more turbulent times as the season progresses, no one will welcome the return of Benteke more than Lambert as he looks to justify the new three-year contract that was rewarded to him by Randy Lerner earlier this season after such a bright start.
It remains to be seen if Villa’s number 20 can make an immediate impact upon returning, or if he will require a bit of time to develop some thrust in his play. Villa are in dire need of his exploits now more than ever, Lambert especially, as his job could depend on it.
Granted a player of Benteke’s caliber is more than capable of producing the goods when needed, Lambert will need to make some adjustments in order to cater to his star striker’s needs, as even the best of players require quality service; something that has been lacking immensely this season for Villa.
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