Key to success

Christian Benteke’s recent hat-trick against QPR salvaged a point for Aston Villa and then he struck the only goal at Tottenham. His goals will be a crucial factor for the Midlanders to avoid the drop in the English Premier League.

He may be a source of frustration for Aston Villa fans but Christian Benteke may just be the man to fire Tim Sherwood’s side to Premier League safety this season.

The Belgian striker has failed to reach the heights after a stunning first season in England, when he hit 23 goals in an otherwise forgetful campaign, but a run of eight goals in six games suggests he is back to his best.

Persistent injuries have ravaged the last two campaigns for Benteke but Sherwood has publicly challenged his talismanic centre forward to prove his worth to the side and he has responded after scoring just three goals until March.

A recent hat-trick against QPR salvaged a point for Villa and then he struck the only goal at Tottenham. His goals will be a crucial factor for the Midlanders to avoid the drop.

Sherwood is well aware of his importance, saying: “Christian is a key to our success because he scores goals. You guys (the Press) were questioning Christian and saying it must’ve been a one-off a couple of seasons ago.

“You didn’t look for any mitigating circumstances. Do you think he was starved of service?”

The decision of Sherwood to implement a more attacking system since the departure of Paul Lambert in February has certainly paid dividends for Benteke, who was often left to feed off scraps during the previous regime.

Fabian Delph and Scott Sinclair are two others who have shone under the new man in charge, with their creativity key to bringing out the best in the former Genk striker.

“If he scores goals it will breed confidence and the rest will follow. But it’s certainly not a one-man team. He’s going to be an important part of it because we know what he can be,” added Sherwood.

“We need to see if he can recapture that form because all the best clubs in the world were after him. I am sure we can tap into that confidence and get him back firing. But he’s going to need to be helped out by the rest of the group as well.”

If the future is now looking bright for the Belgian, it could not be more different to a year ago when injury ruled him out of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and patience was running thin at Villa Park after an ill-judged transfer request.

However for the moment, it seems Benteke is happy at his adopted home after admitting back in December that handing in a transfer request had not been a wise decision.

“I don’t have regrets about staying,” he said. “Every choice I made I accept but I would not do the same mistake and everything that happened before.”

Villa fans will be happy to forgive and forget if Benteke can fire the club to Premier League safety during a nervy end to the season.

© PA Sport