Can this Fulham striker help to keep his side up?

Darren Bent

Darren Bent's late leveller in the 2-2 draw at Manchester United could act as a springboard for an upturn in fortunes for both player and club.

Harry Redknapp once famously described a Darren Bent miss as one his "missus could have scored" during the striker's ill-fated spell at Tottenham.

His blunder, which came in the final minute of a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Portsmouth, effectively brought down the curtains on his time at White Hart Lane so it was fitting that he was jolly on the spot from similarly close range yesterday to steal a point for his Fulham side in a pulsating 2-2 stalemate at Manchester United. 

It was his first goal since October for the bottom-of-the-table Cottagers and, as such, was celebrated wildly by a man who has played second fiddle throughout his time at the club and even experienced the humiliation of being left on the bench as boss Rene Meulensteen opted for relative unknown Muamer Tankovic for the trip to Old Trafford.

A visit to David Moyes' side is not quite as daunting as it perhaps once was but in preferring the Swede, it underlined the standing of Bent in the Dutchman's thoughts at present.

The 30-year-old emerged for the second half to replace Tankovic, who offered precious little threat and, in truth, so did Bent but that perhaps owed to the fact his side defended so deep and allowed United onto them, inevitably resulting in goals from Robin Van Persie and Michael Carrick to cancel out Steve Sidwell's shock opener.

Fulham squandered the chance to make it two just before the interval as Kieran Richardson blazed over but Bent would have been forgiven for thinking he could have made a more telling contribution, he soon would.

His only chance of the game was one he refused to snatch at, memories of Redknapp's outburst will have been pulsing through his veins as he stooped to head home the most dramatic of equalisers when Richardson's shot was parried by De Gea.

But has a man who has most commonly been associated with playing a poacher type than anything else got enough goals in him to help stave off the threat of relegation. 

Given he has scored a paltry three goals all season, with his equaliser at Old Trafford his only on the road, Fulham certainly need more from a striker who is more than capable despite his advancing years.

The club-record signing of Konstantinos Mitroglou presents another obstacle to his path to the first team but now is the time to stake a claim, particularly considering the Greek is still feeling his way to full fitness.

The stats make for grim reading, however. Bent has only failed to feature in six of Fulham's 25 games this season yet has posted just 0.79 attempts per game this season, with an alarming 0.47 of those finding the target.

More concerning for increasingly worried Fulham fans is his ability to squander the sort of gilt-edged chances that do come his way, despite them evidently being few and far between.

0.32 of big chances he gets, he misses which becomes all the more intriguing given it represents nigh-on 40% of the openings that come his way.

The majority of his opportunities - 0.74 - are from open play, with 0.11 one-on-ones and precisely nothing from set pieces meaning there is pressure on the Cottagers' new creator-in-chief Lewis Holtby to provide the sort of service he displayed for Sidwell's goal at the weekend.

Bent must take this opportunity to save his stock and Fulham's status as a Premier League club while he's at it. 

NameTeamPosTotal Scoring Att / appsOntarget Scoring Att / appsShot Off Target / appsAtt One On One / appsAtt Openplay / appsBig Chance Missed / appsAtt Setpiece / appsAppsMins
Darren Bent Fulham FW 0.79 0.47 0.26 0.11 0.74 0.32 0 19 918

image: © wonker

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch