Having limped out of training late last week with a groin strain it now looks as though Christian Benteke will be declared fit for this weekend’s massive home game against Brighton but after a different attacking approach against the Cherries on Saturday just gone, should Roy Hodgson throw the Belgian straight back into the side?
With both Connor Wickham and Alexander Sørloth still sidelined with injuries, Benteke remains the only out-and-out striker available for selection ahead of the crunch clash with the Seagulls but after deploying both Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend in openly attacking roles against Eddie Howe’s men, some are suggesting that Christian should start this weekend’s game on the bench, allowing the aforementioned duo’s burgeoning partnership to grow.
Whilst Benteke’s lack of goals so far this season make it hard for anyone to confidently suggest that his inclusion in the starting XI would be preferential to that tactical plan, I do feel as though we will need to employ a formation and style that the squad are used to heading into a game of such magnitude.
Admittedly, we created a pleasing number of chances against Bournemouth and had we been more clinical, we could have been out of sight long before they mounted a late comeback but with five games to go and two wins needed if we are serious about avoiding the drop, I can certainly see why many are keen not to keep Benteke out of the side altogether against Chris Hughton and co.
Yes, he’s struggling hugely for confidence, yes, he missed a couple of gilt-edged chances against Liverpool in his last appearance but what better way to get back that sense of belief than by notching the winner against our biggest rivals with his first goal at Selhurst in the 2017/18 season?
It wouldn’t matter to me, or anyone else for that matter, if Benteke scored the winner off his own backside from half a yard out, the only thing that any of us care about at this stage is gaining three more points and putting some real breathing room between ourselves and Southampton in eighteenth place.
Whatever Roy Hodgson decides to go with on the day, I will get behind but right now, with a little over three days to go before the game kicks off, I would imagine he is as undecided as anyone about what to do with the big man.
What are your thoughts?