Christian Benteke put in a far from impressive performance against Arsenal last night, leading commentator Martin Tyler to aim a dig at his general display whilst covering the game for NBC in the United States.
The Belgian striker had looked to be back on form when grabbing the vital first goal in Palace’s 3-0 win away at Leicester earlier this month but after picking up a booking during the clash with the Foxes, he was out of the side that took on Swansea just before Christmas. Most would assume that the extra rest would have done the big man good but against Arsene Wenger’s men last night, he was badly off the pace.
Whilst he’s undoubtedly a huge aerial threat whenever the play allows for it, he hasn’t been offering much more in the final third of the field for quite some time, with last night’s display in isolation, offering an insight into why so many Palace fans are finally losing patience with the £30 million signing.
I said myself on Twitter last night, that I’d love to see him gambling regularly at the near post, given the frequency with which Zaha is able to beat his covering full-back on the left flank and ping a low ball across the six-yard-box. It was a piece of movement that Glenn Murray seemed to perfect in our promotion winning campaign of 2012-13 and would almost certainly result in five to 10 more goals per season for Benteke, were he switched on enough to make the run with any level of regularity.
With the incredibly daunting prospect of a New Year’s Eve meeting against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on the immediate horizon, we will need to see Benteke playing with a much greater sense of vigour if we are to stand any real chance of pulling off the mother of all upsets. Will that happen? Your guess is as good as mine but I dare say Martin Tyler isn’t expecting a dramatic change in performance from Christian against the champions in waiting.
My fingers and toes are firmly crossed.