Liverpool will be going in as favorites in their upcoming semi final clash with Aston Villa, for the most part of this season it would of been a foregone conclusion that progression would be straight forward for the Reds.
Under Tim Sherwood however, Aston Villa are a far different proposition. There is one player whose form has rapidly improved since the new managers arrival and Brendan Rodgers needs to be aware of this.
That player is Christian Benteke. After under-performing for most of the season, he is now the man that his new manager has revolves his team around, and being the new 'main man' has give Benteke the confidence to go on quite the hit streak.
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Sherwood hasn't come into Aston Villa with an abnormal managerial philosophy or new style of playing, much like Brendan Rodgers did when he arrived at Liverpool nearly three years ago, but Sherwood has simply come to Villa Park and identified a player he thinks the team will benefit from getting the best out of.
Benteke has now scored 10 goals this season, 8 of them coming since the arrival of Tim Sherwood, this shows the confidence the dominating striker has found in that time, and Aston Villas form has had a similar change in fortune.
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This recent run of form has seen Aston Villa win against Tottenham and have massive wins against Sunderland and QPR, 4-0 and 3-0 respectively.
There is no doubting that the biggest difference in the way Aston Villa are performing is the form of Christian Benteke, so if Liverpool can stop him they can give themselves every chance of progressing to the final.
This is a task that may be tougher than usual, due to injuries and suspensions Rodgers has had to shift players around and the formation of his defence of late.
Martin Skrtel is due back however Mamadou Sakho will be out injured, so Rodgers has a tough choice to make about how many player he puts at the back and who fills the positions, either way it will be a line up that has not been playing together regularly over the past month or so.
Having taken into account Benteke's dominance of late, the Tim Sherwood's effect, Aston Villa's form and Liverpool's frailties at the back, it would be fair to assume that Liverpool making the FA Cup Final is not as straight forward as some may think.
Thus, the importance of identifying and nullifying Christian Benteke is of paramount importance for the Liverpool defence, whether that is a man marking role for Martin Skrtel or a team effort to ensure the in form striker does not have his way with the Reds at Wembley.
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