If one thing has always been certain in football, if we have learnt anything, is that you simply need goals. As obvious as this sounds, there have been countless examples over the years of sides who have lacked the potent attacking force going forward which has significantly cost them over the course of a season.
We only have to look at where Liverpool were last year, with Luis Suarez still at the club and Daniel Sturridge free from injury in comparison to their current position. In Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli, they brought in two strikers who managed a combined tally of 32 during 2013-2014. That's not a bad effort at all, yet both have been misfiring in Daniel Sturridge's absence.
The importance of having a top quality and consistent striker can make a major difference in the outcome of a club's performances. Would Newcastle have been able to sustain European football and top half finishes without Alan Shearer? Would Manchester City have been crowned Premier League champions instead of United in 2013 if Robin Van Persie had chosen blue over red? Would even Charlton Athletic have spent so many seasons in England's top flight without the goals of Darren Bent?
Benteke must take on the goal burden
Of course, not every club is completely reliant on a star man upfront, but many become so, or if not based purely on reliance, then at least as a platform to elevate them to bigger and better things. A top goalscorer, at least in a statistical sense will often make a marginal difference to how results pan out. Christian Benteke is one such footballer.
His debut season in 2012-13 saw him claim 19 goals in 34 for league games for Villa. Wriggled with injuries last year, his achievements in 2013-2014 consisted of 10 goals in 26 league games, with Villa looking a different team in his absence. They started the 2014-15 campaign in the same vein, and at one point had scored just two goals in six games. There had been murmurings of a relegation fight and potential sacking of manager Paul Lambert.
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Lambert needs his star man to find form
Although Benteke's return has not directly influenced the Villans results up to now, the presence of a major goal threat will come as a sigh of relief for the West Midlands club who, in the Belgian forward, have a player who most defenders will see as their worst nightmare.
Big, strong, powerful, good in the air and with a fair amount of pace, Benteke is able to lead the line with natural confidence and is not shy to demand the ball. His performance against Manchester United on Saturday was reminiscent of what we saw two years ago, and it appears he could well be back to his best. Villa will certainly hope so, he could well be the difference between relegation or at least near relegation and a comfortable middle table finish.
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