Today in the traditional Boxing Day list of fixtures sees Aston Villa visit Tottenham. One of the interesting things to watch will be the performance of Villa’s Belgian striker Christian Benteke. At the moment, the Belgian national side is blessed with a very talented young team including: Cortios of Atletico Madrid, Kompany of Man City, Hazard of Chelsea and Witsel of Zenit St Petersburg. Though Benteke is becoming a regular for both Belgium and Villa he was not always regarded as a leading light for club or country.
When Villa manager: Paul Lambert signed him from Genk for £7m ($12m) at the start of this season, he was regarded as a good prospect rather than the finished article. At 6ft 5in, he is one of the tallest players in the league and is capable of making his presence felt. His goalscoring average is about one goal in three games.
However, his arrival at Villa seems to have been timely both for him and for the club. Normally Villa rely on experienced centre forward Darren Bent to lead the line, but Bent is a good finisher rather than a good all round team player, and also has a reputation for being troublesome in the dressing room.
Villa had a slow start to the season, winning only 2 of their first 10 games under their new manager. Things have improved a little since then, especially with a 3-1 win at Liverpool (we won’t mention the 8-0 thrashing by Chelsea since then). Villa fans are patient though as they were even worse last season, and Paul Lambert does seem to have a plan.
One of the reasons why Lambert is being given time is the form of Benteke, who has easily been Villa’s player of the season. He has the stereotypical ‘good touch for a big lad’ and has netted 8 goals in 17 games.
What makes today’s fixture interesting is that the rumour mill is saying that Benteke will be a target for Tottenham in the summer. Fifa rules prevent Spurs from signing him in January, but they need strikers and a tall target man to link up with Jermain Defoe would be a good addition to the squad. Today could be a good chance for Benteke to audition for the role
Mark Cruise is a football writer for Rantsports. Follow him on Twitter: @chiefhairyman