All the furore surrounding Andy Carroll’s challenge on David De Gea during Manchester United’s midweek draw at West Ham proved an effective screen for another relatively lacklustre display from the champions elect, but Paul Lambert will have been interested to see how United’s defence was once again unsettled by a physical striker.
Earlier in the season Christian Benteke was excellent for Aston Villa as they challenged Manchester United at Villa Park, only for a late Javier Hernandez goal to complete another comeback victory for Alex Ferguson’s team.
However the United side they will face on Monday is a different team, who have struggled to maintain their momentum in a league they have more or less already won, and with Villa desperate for a result after a weekend where several of their relegation rivals have picked up crucial wins, could their motivation drive them past the home side on Monday night?
Clearly United will be keen to get the title wrapped up after Tottenham Hotspur beat Manchester City, but even so they will perhaps not have the drive that Villa have after a weekend where their chances of relegation increased significantly.
Benteke is the joint leading scorer in the Premier League in 2013, with his ten goals putting level with Luis Suarez and ahead of Gareth Bale, and he has established himself as one of the best young strikers in the Premier League this season. He has the physical attributes to trouble Manchester United’s defence, and also the technical ability to make most of any chances he gets.
With a trip to Arsenal next weekend, Alex Ferguson will know that Monday night’s game is his team’s best chance of securing the title in the next two weeks. However Villa have been in fine form of late, and Benteke has been one of the stand out performers in the league in the past couple of months, and it would not be surprising if the Belgian delayed their celebrations a little longer.
image: © little-pete