In the face of a relegation battle, being overlooked for an individual honour four games before the end of the season probably didn’t bother Christian Benteke all that much.
But following his hat-trick in Aston Villa’s 6-1 demolition of Sunderland, the 22-year-old Belgian reiterated what was clear to many already.
Without Benteke, Villa would already be sharing the same fate as Reading and QPR. With him, they look every inch this year’s survival success story.
Just as last year Wigan won seven of their last nine games to prompt an unlikely revival. So this year it is Paul Lambert’s side doing everything in their power to stay up.
Benteke has been a truly outstanding signing by Lambert.
Following the game, the Villa manager said the striker can be anything he wants to be; although apparently he cannot be the PFA Young Player of the Year. Not this year at least.
Perhaps following Benteke’s latest exploits there will be a few reconsidering their votes.
To pass the 20-goal mark in your debut season is quite an achievement. To do so in the face of a relegation tussle and at such a young age makes it even more impressive.
The problem with players as good as Benteke is that other teams will always be interested. But a man who was signed for just £8million in the summer from Genk is now worth considerably more than that.
It is also a sign of his immediate and inexplicable impact that Darren Bent has been all but forgotten.
While his first goal against Sunderland was a close range header into an open goal, his second and third spoke of a man at the peak of his confidence.
For his second he rose highest from a corner to head past Sunderland ‘keeper Simon Mignolet, before beating his countryman from a tight angle for his third.
Villa’s win has just made the relegation battle a lot more interesting. Should Wigan win their game in hand, the likes of Newcastle, Sunderland and Norwich will be approaching their remaining games with trepidation.
Villa on the other hand have the league’s form striker. Having found him, they must do everything they can to keep him. He is only going to get better.
How good has Benteke been for Villa this season? And what does the future hold for the player and the club?
images: © little-pete