Libor Kozak’s surname may be one letter different from 70s television detective Kojak but this week Aston Villa fans could find out that when it comes to goalscoring, like the lollypop-loving sleuth, they are facing a sticky situation.
The Czech forward has made a blistering start to his Villa career, netting the winner in a tense 1-0 victory over Norwich City at Carrow Road last weekend.
But what many fans may not be aware of is that that was the 24-year-old’s first goal in 34 league games and if he thought the hard work was over in simply ending that duck, he’s sorely mistaken.
With main Villa forward threat Christian Benteke facing time on the sidelines after aggravating a hip injury against the Canaries, the onus will fall on Kozak to deliver in front of goal and that could go one of two ways.
The former Lazio star may exhibit the kind of poor finishing that prompts calls for Emile Heskey to return from his self-imposed Australian League exile.
Alternatively, Kozak could show off the very same eye for goal that helped him reach the top of the scoring charts in the Europa League last term with eight strikes, a tally that earned him a €7 million move to Villa.
Whatever the case, Paul Lambert looks likely to use Kozak in their Capital One Cup match against Tottenham, a team the Czech forward actually played against in Europe last term, drawing a blank in their 0-0 draw at the Stadio Olimpico.
A similar showing here could spell bad news for Villa, who will be eager to build on the Norwich win and enjoy another solid run in the League Cup to match last season’s march to the semi-finals.
And while Andre Villas Boas is unlikely to risk many of his first choice players in the competition, a decent showing against Spurs’ star-studded squad could provide a morale boost for Lambert, Villa and the Czech forward.
Kozak may have little in common with his near-namesake Kojak, but he could be the one to solve the case of the missing striker at Villa Park this week.
image: © Ben Sutherland