Man City v Villa blog: Benteke influence creating a "real buzz"
Paul Brown on Christian Benteke impact.
16th Nov 2012
Man City v Villa blog: Benteke influence creating a "real buzz"

Christian Benteke said one of the reasons he joined Villa was the "amazing story" of the club.

He wanted a move to the Barclays Premier League, sure, but he was charmed by Villa because of the claret and blue chronicles, which chart the account of seven League Championships, seven FA Cups, five League Cups and a European Cup.

When interviewed by Sam Wallace of the Independent for a preview piece ahead of the Man Utd clash, the powerful forward smiled and pointed at the magnificent Bodymoor Heath mural of the glorious night in Rotterdam to explain his delight at his decision to join.

Now, it's fair to say that Benteke has made a good start in writing his own chapter in the ongoing story of Aston Villa.

As manager Paul Lambert keeps reiterating, Benteke is still very young as a footballer and has a lot to learn, in his way attempting to see off any undue pressure on the 21-year-old.

But at the same time, the boss accepts that Benteke can be "anything he wants to be" in the game.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and charm supporters for different reasons.

Benteke has made a flying start to his life at Villa and is adored by fans with 70% of shirts sold in Villa Stores bearing his name.

But it's not a false idol fans are worshipping. Figures back up his importance to the cause.

According to in-depth stats, he was the "most influential" player on the pitch for Villa against Man Utd.

This is a category usually dominated by midfielders, with Michael Carrick earning that accolade for the visitors.

Benteke won most 'aerial duels' in the game - ten of seventeen - ahead of powerhouse defenders Chris Smalling and Rio Ferdinand.

He was second in 'take-ons' - the art of gliding past a player with the ball - with three out of three attempted, just behind wing wizard Antonia Valencia, who has made a career out of the discipline.

In 'attacking third passes' he was the highest Villa player - at No.5 - with thirteen from twenty overall.

Again, this is a category usually controlled by central stars, with Carrick again on top for Man Utd.

Benteke was No.1 in 'defensive blocks' and, also interestingly, the No.1 pass made by Villa in the clash was Brad Guzan to Christian Benteke, with fifteen completed overall.

If you add these impressive stats to eye-candy moments which get the supporters off their feet to applaud - knocking down Chris Smalling and chest-bumping Wayne Rooney for example - you appreciate the epic impact he's made.

Don't just take my word for it though. His fellow players adore him, also.

There's been Gabby Agbonlahor and Marc Albrighton coming forward so far. And now goalkeeping ace Guzan.

Guzan said: "Christian's been absolutely massive for us. He has terrific ability at relieving pressure by holding the ball up. But it's not only his ability in the air, he has real skill with his feet too.

"His link-up play and his ability to bring other players into the game has been phenomenal.

"He has really exploded on to the scene for Villa. From the first minute, he's been fantastic.

"He's great in training. He works incredibly hard in training and he transitions all his skills from the training ground during the week on to the big match at the weekend.

"His best is yet to come, definitely. He's only young and he's still learning.

"He's also getting used to the Barclays Premier League after several seasons in Belgium. That takes time - not that you'd think it from his start.

"If he keeps on the track he's on now, he's going to be huge for Villa. His name is going to create a real buzz around the club.

"He's a gentle giant off the field too. He's a bit on the quiet side but he likes to have a little bit of banter when he has shooting practice. He's a good lad. The guys have really taken to him.

"The fans have certainly taken to him. And, most importantly, he's really taken to the club."

Benteke needed ID as a kid to prove his age to the opposition because of his immense size. Now he needs no identification. Anyone with an eye for football can tell we've got some player on our hands!

Snap up your tickets for the Arsenal clash.

paul brown, blogs,
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