As a result of Alex McLeish’s horrendously negative tactics last season, very few Villa players were taken seriously by Fantasy managers when crafting initial lineups this time round. Prices were subsequently downgraded and with the arrival of a more attack minded manager in Paul Lambert, plus the emergence of several young (and cheap) players, the Villains appeared to offer a rich seam of differential talent waiting to be mined. It’s taken a while for Lambert’s young lions to establish themselves this season, however, and as it stands that talent remains largely untapped; the acrobatic Brad Guzan in goal and the muscular Christian Benteke up front are the only players to accumulate more than a 3% FPL ownership to this point.
Four goals at Carrow Road in the Capital One cup and another three at Anfield has given us plenty of reason to take another look, and summer signing Benteke has been central to Villa’s resurgent run of form. In many ways, the Belgian is a symbol of the changes taking place at Villa Park – young, energetic and strong, the comparison with forlorn and fallen team-mate Darren Bent is striking. Benteke’s performance at Anfield displayed many of the qualities missing in the England international; he won aerial duels all over the pitch, scored a powerful goal from distance, set up another with a cheeky bit of skill and capped it off by barging his way into the box to execute a cool finish. If he was English, the media would have eaten it up.
We’ve already covered Benteke once this season, back in November he made significant strides: enough to promote him in our thoughts. He duly delivered three goals an assist and six bonus points since that article but, with a forthcoming schedule that screams further returns, Benteke warrants renewed attention.
Three home games in the next four against Tottenham, Wigan and Southampton should provide plenty of chances for Benteke to boost his burgeoning reputation further. While Villa’s form could now be fragile having just taken a pounding at Chelsea, Lambert is backing his side to show their spirit and bounce back in the Boxing Day meeting with Spurs. Considering that he has scored or assisted eight of Villa’s 13 league goals so far this term, Benteke will surely be the key figure on show against Andre Villas-Boas’ side and, with a price tag of 6.7 in the FPL and just 7.5 in the Sky Sports game, there are few obstacles to investment.
An ownership of just over 3%, with the ability to free up funds for heavy midfield acquisitions, promotes the appeal and could mean that Poirot isn’t the only Belgian that comforts us over Christmas; it’s not certain that Benteke will be murdering defences but he’s surely a prime suspect.