Without the need of psychic ability opposition managers always knew that the stubborn Scot would set his team up with a lone front man.
When Darren Bent suffered with a lengthy injury the only guess work involved was whether defenders would be facing an unbelievably goal shy Emile Heskey, or a Gabby Agbonlahor that was wasted in the role of having to chest down meteorically high long balls.
Now under Paul Lambert the picture looks brighter, more refined and ultimately easier on the eye. With only one transfer reshuffle in forward cliental (Heskey out, Benteke in) striking options suddenly look healthier, despite the status quo in numbers remaining the same.
Apart from the obvious conclusion that Christian Benteke will offer far more of a goal threat than Emile Heskey, the reason being is that Lambert, as a manager, is more positive, adaptable and is not a slave to reputation.
It has not escaped the eyes of the public that Darren Bent, Villa’s record £18m signing, has been dropped from the starting line up for the last two games, coupled with the disappointment of also losing the Captain’s armband to Ron Vlaar. A decision that the manager felt requires explanation. "I just thought for this given game this was the right team. I need everybody, the whole 26 lads, to perform."
"I don't think Darren Bent has got anything to prove to me or the outside world, everybody knows he's a proven goalscorer," said Lambert.
A section of Villa fan’s this season have become inpatient with Bent’s display’s, some labelling him as “lazy.” It seems his position as Villa’s number one striker is under threat.
The deadline day acquisition of, 21 year old Belgian striker, Christian Benteke has caused fans to lick their lips in anticipation every time that a ball comes within a five mile radius of his powerful frame.
Gabby Agbonlahor appears to be returning to form, after scoring two goals that helped knock Man City out of the ‘Capital One’ Cup, and young Austrian, Andreas Weimann, looked lively in his early season starts.
In yesterday’s 1-1 derby draw, with West Bromich Albion, Darren Bent emerged from the bench to serve a timely reminder about what he was put on this planet to do; score goals. Villa had 21 shots yesterday without finding the net; it took Bent three touches to do so.
Under the leadership of a manager renowned for changing formation, as well as seemingly favouring two front men at present, it is now harder to foretell the Villa strike force that will take to the pitch. Looking at the strikers stats this season (in all competitions) reveals Agbonlahor to be the most potent in terms of goals to games ratio:
Gabriel Agbonlahor (4 appearances, 2 goals)
Darren Bent (7 appearances, 3 goals)
Christian Benteke (4 appearances, 1 goal)
Andreas Weimann (6 appearances, 0 goals)
Should Bent be an automatic starter, who do you think provides Villa’s most threatening strike options?
image: © Ben Sutherland