Benteke’s Shooting Boots & Bring On Disco Stew

Terrace Talk

I’m faced with that midweek curse again, having to knock this up prior to last night’s Capital One Cup quarter-final tie at Carrow Road. Recent form would suggest that the match yesterday evening was a tight affair, and we’re praying that Villa now have a place in the semi-final of a competition that we have a decent record in. If not, that’s very likely to be curtains on the silverware front for yet another season. The League Cup is a competition that I always think a club like ours, particularly in these gritty times, should be aiming to win. [Ed: We did alright last night.]

Saturday’s performance against Stoke was again very solid, but once more, all too often we lacked that killer ball, and when rare opportunities did present themselves our efforts were feeble. Hats off to The Potters, though, they were more than content to come away from home and limit us to very few chances with the hope of sneaking one from a set piece or a quick break. They are on a very good run and have now racked up 14 points from a possible 18. I’d give my right arm to see Villa go on a similar streak but with Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham coming up I just can’t see it myself. That’s very much the defeatist character within me rearing up its ugly head. Sorry.

Today, though, I want to talk a little bit more about Christian Benteke. The Belgian only turned 22 last week, and has quickly made his mark on the Premier League, most notably leaving more than just a mark on Chris Smalling’s upper arm. His work rate is second to none, his ability to hold up the ball is truly phenomenal, and then the way he brings others into the game is absolutely breathtaking. And now, just as I’m on the verge of having a Benteke-gasm, I interrupt myself and ask, “But what of his goal scoring ability?”

Lacklustre. It just ain’t happening. There has already been many a time this season where he’s done all the ground work—and then just ends up firing a blank.

The main problem is that all of our players are firing blanks right now, and so we can’t afford to let chances go begging. The worst thing is that there’s more than enough evidence to suggest the lad knows where the target is. If you look at his last three seasons dating back to 2009-10, Benteke netted 40 times in 89 appearances, and he’s already in among the goals for his national side despite only making nine appearances. If he can start converting the chances that he does get then Villa may well just start climbing that Premier League table.

Monday night’s defeat at Fulham saw Newcastle slipping down the table, and they now only hold a two-point lead on us going into this weekend. Along with our fixture of course there are a couple of other matches that personally I shall be keeping close tabs on on Saturday: Norwich vs. Wigan and QPR vs. Fulham. Head-to-heads featuring sides that will be in and around whereabouts we are come May.

Onto the trip to Liverpool. Anfield is no longer a place you go to and fear, and I’m more than hopeful that we can go there and pick something up. The middle of the park will be an interesting battle ground for two sides that don’t really have much muscle in there, although Liverpool may well think that with Lucas Leiva getting into his stride he can be their trusty henchman—the one that breaks up the play just in front of the back four.

Jose Enqrique pulled up midway through the first half in Liverpool’s 3-2 win at West Ham last weekend, and it may well mean that former Villan Stewart Downing fills in at left back. When he has been forced to play there this season I’ve watched with great interest as to just how he performs and, if truth be told, he appears very, very uncomfortable. His positioning is all over the shop. If we play with some intensity and put some real pressure on that side of the pitch we may well cause them a few problems. That’s not to say I’d like to see Lowton over-committing down that flank.

Liverpool are a side who like to dictate the play, particularly on their own patch, whereas we’re slowly turning into a young tenacious side who are hungry for the ball. One of Villa’s positives this season has been the hunger and desire to get the ball off of the opposition, hassling and harrying them and forcing them into errors. For much of the season—up until very recently—we’ve then given away the ball very cheaply, but it now seems as though we’re  retaining the ball a lot better. The next step is to actually do something meaningful with it. And in so doing we may even start to find the net more regularly. It’s as simple as ABC, isn’t it?

My score prediction for this weekend is 1-1.

This week I shall leave you with a little bit of humour. Whilst watching the Villa – Stoke match via some dodgy link at the weekend, one of the commentators came out with, “Villa’s dead-ball specialist Barry Bannan looks set to take this free kick.” A sentence best printed on the paper tab inside a cheap Christmas cracker.

Until next time, Up the Villa!

About the Author

Avatar of Ryan Pitcher

Ryan PitcherAn aspiring writer and newbie columnist for Aston Villa Life - my articles appear every Wednesday. I really do eat, sleep and breath the beautiful game. I have a personal blog too: www.officialrpitcher.comView all posts by Ryan Pitcher →

  1. The DroydThe Droyd12-12-2012

    I hope Lambert sticks with 3-5-2. Why change something that is starting to work? In Herd, Lowton, Baker, Clark, Vlaar and Dunne we have enough defenders to play in the centrally defensive 3.

    The wing backs provide cover in defence but they really need to have attacking capability in the absence of genuine wingers. Lichaj and Bennett are ideal for this as their strengths are in going forwards. Defensively they are both a little suspect. They are more suited to this role than full back I believe. Lowton can play in this position but his strengths lie in defensive duties. We must carry on as we are until Bennett is fit. Lichaj admirably does a job on the left but we know he is better on the right.

    3-5-2 allows us to play with 2 strikers. Benteke has looked isolated when playing on his own up front. What a difference Weimann made. We could have the makings of a good partnership here. This should be persevered with for the time being.

    Out of the 3 central midfielders it would be good to see someone with flair. You can have the steady Eddies like Delph, El Hamadi, Westwood and Bannan competing for 2 places but really I would like to see CNZ, Holman and Ireland competing for that attacking space behind the front 2.

    I think Lambert has recognised, to his credit, that this squad suits 3-5-2 and he has adapted accordingly. Can you imagine McLeish adapting and doing anything other than getting 10 men behind the ball because we lack a bit of quality?

    This is why Paul Lambert is an excellent manager and McLeish is a poor manager.

  2. bibulusbibulus12-12-2012

    Nice to wake up with a semi.
    Seems the players are growing into this 3-5-2. We definitely saw more width last night (happy frem?)
    The beast and weimann do also look better and better together – Bent also looked to be putting in a shift (no seriously) – perhaps thats why he did his hammy – just not used to that kind of work rate sadly.
    Praying we can take this form to analfield and get 3 much needed points but my head says the best we will get is a draw – despite this weeks free bet from Mr Murdoch going on a villa win at 9-1.
    UTV!!!!

  3. FremFrem12-12-2012

    Droyd- Lowton wont get dropped, the kids done really well and has shown really good bits at going forward some times.

    3-5-2 does seem to be working, the only worry is aginst the big boys they might play us of the park in midfield

    apparentley our last goal was a 15 pass move

    anyway, you see what happens when Gabby doesn’t play ?? he just holds us back, he doesn’t know what he is doing on a football pitch. AW knows where the net is, Gabby doesn’t and it was a nice pass last night from Zoggy through to CB to set up AW.

    no ireland last night ?? think he might be on his way. shame DB wont be, we could have got good amount of cash for him

  4. FremFrem12-12-2012

    Bennet and Vlaar will be back soon i think. will be interesting to see how Bennet plays in this new formation. It will suit him more

  5. B6toBrasilB6toBrasil12-12-2012

    Morning Lifers

    It`s a very refreshing feeling to be able to comment on an emphatic victory,albeit one that I didn`t see at all,Fox here showed S`land -Reading.If you can be smashed 3 zip by S`land who are dreadful,then you have huge problems.
    Very quiet on here today,if we had lost there would,I`m sure have been 30 comments by now,human nature is strange.
    As I wrote at the weekend,PL is building a real team and the team is improving as are the individuals within that team.We seem to be developing a real mental strength,or character,call it what you will.I keep writing seem,because I haven`t seen us play live for a while now.Loving the whole PL rebuild and have total faith in him,he knows what he`s doing.COYVB.

  6. AndrewAndrew12-12-2012

    Firstly well done Villa on a superb result. I just wish i could enjoy it more as our league form and position worries me. Its ok going on a 5 or 6 game un beaten run if your actually winning most of the games but all we are doing is drawing. We would be better off losing a few and winning a few. Being level on points with wigan in the drop zone and having pool, chelsea & spurs up next makes me think its going to be a few more weeks until i can savour a win again.

  7. proxoperaproxopera12-12-2012

    Frem ,
    I dont follow your logic about being played off the field by the big boys ina 3-5-2 formation , surely its the space behind your wingbacks you tend to expose in that formation ? Anyway, I’ve felt that Villa have been very ‘u-shaped ‘ in the middle for the past three seasons and believe we gave far too many average teams control of the middle while we attempted to defend aginst the advanced attacking platform we just handed over.
    We now appear to have a very busy and aggressive centre who will dominate most opposition but that does’nt mean we wont get exposed at times . It looks like lambert is fine tuning the sysytem according to the availible ingredients rather than the other way around. It also occurs to me that the squad is full of players who suit this system rather than specailists in any positions. If Downing has to play full back on saturday he’ll be shredded. Everyone at villa knows he cant/wont tackle , so maybe he’ll get his karma at last.

  8. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey12-12-2012

    B6,

    Like you imply, it is interesting that there are less comments when we win though the old logic of “bad news sells” illustrates why as people can struggle to have anything to say if a team is doing what they should. Studies show regularly that people subconsciously “prefer” and otherwise engage more when there is something to criticise or a danger brought up.

    Great game last night and delighted with the effort – if we can continue to grow in confidence and transfer our cup form to the league, we will be fine, especially if January’s purchases go well.

  9. steamersteamer12-12-2012

    Hello Ryan,
    You never know, now that he seems to have found a goalscoring partner Benteke may relax slightly, I think that without doubt B & W is the way to go.
    What a shame that the PL / Naarwich legal dispute seems to taking headlines over a superb Villa performance, it really can’t be underestimated, it was superb.

  10. B62 VillaB62 Villa12-12-2012

    Great result last night, we really need to take this form into our league campaign , we really need to pick some wins up, the draws are keeping us in and around the relegation zone. I hope Bents injury isn’t serious, or he may well become an expensive millstone around our neck, and cut our jan transfer kitty.
    There are still glaring gaps and a lack of quality in this squad, however we won and won well last night so any deficiencies can wait for now.

  11. Calum and BlueCalum and Blue12-12-2012

    Great result last night and sounds like it was a performance to match. It’s good to see that we’ve appeared to get rid of our second half slumps. Whatever was causing it, it seems as though the physical/mental endurance has improved drastically (see the 3 goals we scored in the last 12 minutes last night for example).

  12. runtingsruntings12-12-2012

    So much for us being goal shy eh
    some top notch goals last nite , it seems are young side are getting better with time as i thought might be the case.
    some shaky moments but some great football to win the match .
    hats off to the PL babes

  13. HaggisHaggis12-12-2012

    It is a bit quite on here tonight. I’ve had a busy day for a change and also off out shortly, promised to take the mrs to the pictures to see not once but twicesh1t breaking dawn ( lucky dawn ).

    Typical the only games I have not seen are where have slaughtered Man C and Norwich in the cup.

  14. Ryan PitcherRyan Pitcher12-12-2012

    Last week I commented that a front four consisting of Benteke, Weimann, Gabby & Bowery perhaps wouldn’t be strong enough to keep us up. Last night may well have proved me wrong. Weimann looks very, very sharp. As people say, we now just need to take this into the league and start grinding out some wins. We’re definitely on the right path. Now onto Liverpool – a result there would really, really top it all off.

  15. Ian GibsonIan Gibson12-12-2012

    Does the pressure of the Prem League create some problems with the squad? There really wasn’t any pressure up til now in the cup run. I think the pressure has just risen with the performance last night. Dealing with pressure is difficult. As in golf all your good shots are left on the driving range.
    The confidence should be high right now and that should help with the league play. I think Liverpool will be on the back heel this week end.

  16. steamersteamer12-12-2012

    I don’t know about pressure Ian, when you pocket anywhere between £20,000 – 200,000 per week, i shouldn’t think there’s any. If anyone is feeling it then they should enter the real World. What we do have now is a manager who picks the team on merit, not transfer fees, international caps or any other criteria. I reckon unless Suarez and Gerrard get a couple of ropey penalties Liverpool are in for a reality check on their current aspirations.

  17. steamersteamer12-12-2012

    Ryan,
    We could be in trouble if Benteke is injured, at the moment he looks indestructable but when you work as hard as he does and your muscles start to tighten he could suffer with a few tears and pulls, he really is irreplaceable.

  18. proxoperaproxopera12-12-2012

    Ian ,
    I think the pressure only surfaces when Villa are playing their relegation zone peers particularly at home . I think in general , anything against liverpool will be considered a bonus so villa should be in a good frame of mind for this game. Despite what some may say, I dont think Liverpoop are anything special but Suarez is quite a threat , without him though, they would be no higher in the table than us. If they remain focused , i can see Villa winning this one.

  19. Ballyd100Ballyd10012-12-2012

    Hello lifers ..
    Seems its been a quite day after yesterdays win..
    i didn’t get to see the match but was tracking it through ssn, web and twitter . By all accounts it was a lively game. I got to watch the goals and they were really well taken. I agree with steamer that Benteke and Weimann should start up front against the pool. I like all villans hope Benteke can continue to develop in the manner he has begun his villa career. He has the potential to develop into inequality of the top forwards in Europe.

    its great to have a cup semi final to look forward too. the big thing to come from last night will hopefully be a big boost to the confidence of the
    squad. if we can bring that into the
    league matches we will be fine. Fair

    play to PL has well for changing to 3 5 2 formation it seems to suit the players even if its the en vogue formation. career. He may not be Fecareercareer. h startedhe’s has
    Weimann should start up front against the pool. I hope Benteke can co

  20. Ballyd100Ballyd10012-12-2012

    Wow.. Not sure what happened there…

    anyway hope we can start to pick up some wins in league now.

    UTV

  21. Ballyd100Ballyd10012-12-2012

    You would think i am drunk reading that. ..

  22. Ian GibsonIan Gibson12-12-2012

    Steamer,
    Can’t pressure happen at anytime? Without even knowing it’s around the corner? I don’t think money enters into it. I can’t see them thinking of their paycheck during a game and equating it to how much pressure it creates.
    Just from my own experience from work, I had lots of holy f— moments and it wasn’t until I had 20 plus years on and experience that gave me the confidence to deal what was thrown in my face. With experience confidence grows and pressure goes down. Villa are getting that experience and their confidence is growing. A new wag will raise the performace expectations. This stress is everywhere.

  23. Ian GibsonIan Gibson12-12-2012

    Ballyd100
    You mean you’re not?

  24. Ian GibsonIan Gibson12-12-2012

    Just the crowds’ expectations causes enough pressure. Isn’t that why the away games seem to be better? A travelling base of fans cheering their lungs out regardless of the outcome? I would want to work for those fans and feel lifted by them.

  25. Ian GibsonIan Gibson12-12-2012

    Hey Frem,
    You realize the other side have rifles, grenades, and torpedoes too. And from what I can gather most are good shots. :-)

  26. FremFrem12-12-2012

    you see what happens when gabby doesn’t get in the way ?? the guy is absolutely useless.

    id rather see bowery play before gabby.

    AW is a goal scorer. he has to start, as does zoggy. it will be insulting if PL starts gabby against pool. his time with us has to be up

  27. FremFrem12-12-2012

    lol ian. will just have to hope im a bit better and sharper than they are

  28. Ballyd100Ballyd10012-12-2012

    Ian,

    I wish i was, it would be a good excuse for it…. posted from mobile. no idea how it all got jumbled up like that.
    ah well worse things can happen. The embarrassment wont keep from AVL. Always read the posts at some stage even if i dont always comment. Thought today would be good day to comment but made a bags of it :)

  29. Ian GibsonIan Gibson12-12-2012

    My iphone is a pain to use other than quick texts. I put them in the same catagory as those leatherman do everything knives.

  30. r0bb0r0bb012-12-2012

    Not been on here for a while but it’s so reassuring to see that nothing has changed at all…….whatever happens, whatever the facts, Frem finds a way of blaming Gabby.
    Oh By the way Frem……Gabby didn’t play last night and is still the equal second highest scorer in the Capitol One cup….just weird isn’t it?

  31. FremFrem12-12-2012

    Robbo we also scored 4 with out him and he’s scored about 1 goal in 40 games. Hes truly s**t. He needs to go

  32. TrinityTrinity13-12-2012

    One would think the lads would go to Anfield in the right frame of mind. I worry, though that a little youthful complacency might set in. I’m sure PL is aware of this, and will do his best to prepare the squad for the match.

  33. Ian GibsonIan Gibson13-12-2012

    Maybe Trinity, I hope they are pumped from their success.