Both Aston Villa and Liverpool were in good form heading into the match on Saturday, with Brendan Rodgers starting to talk about Champions League qualification for his side on the back of two league wins in a row, and Villa unbeaten in four and through to the semi finals of the League Cup.
Despite Villa’s recent success, Liverpool were heavy favourites with the bookies ahead of the game, with their talented young players and trump card Luiz Suarez expected to be too much for Villa.
However it was the young stars of Villa’s line-up that won the day, and it was Benteke, rather than Suarez, who ran the show. The Belgian has been performing well for several weeks now, but he raised his standards up a considerable notch on Saturday, dominating the Liverpool back four and scoring twice to seal the victory.
Benteke also set up the other goal that Villa scored, and his work in his side’s build up play sets him out as an excellent all round player. Since he opened the scoring against Norwich in the 1-1 draw on the 27th October, Benteke has either scored or set up six of Villa’s eight goals, and has become completely integral to the way they play their football.
Against Liverpool the Belgian was simply unstoppable, and he has been threatening this kind of performance for a while. He scored twice, set up one goal with an outrageous back heel, and created three other chances for his side.
Signed for just £7 million he is looking like a real bargain. Liverpool spent £10 million on Fabio Borini, who even before his injury looked like only half the player Benteke is. The Reds could really do with a goalscorer of Benteke's ilk arriving at Anfield in January.
After a tricky first few weeks Benteke has now settled into the Premier League, and looks immensely comfortable with the physical battle he faces in the final third. How much would he be worth now?
The most encouraging part of all of this is that Benteke only turned 22 on the 3rd of December. Villa’s reliance on youth this year looked like it could be a problem for them at one stage, but given the excellent recent performances of Baker, Clark, Herd, Westwood and Benteke in particular, it looks like Villa might have assembled a spine for their side that they can rely on for years to come.
How good is Benteke?
image: © little-pete