Come back Christian! Villa man's Saturday stats prove Benteke's importance

Aston Villa's Marc Albrighton was joint-second in the key pass stats for the weekend's matches, but his side still fell to defeat at home to Fulham.

After minor groin and knee injuries had led to a stop-start season for Christian Benteke, the Belgian striker finally got back to what he does best between January and March, scoring six Premier League goals and setting up a further three.

Heading into a World Cup summer, it boded well both for the player and his country, and then the one thing footballers dread happened and Benteke was ruled out for the rest of the season and the summer tournament with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Benteke is now beginning his long road to recovery, but for Aston Villa, it was clear how much they missed him on Saturday.

A 2-1 home defeat to Fulham means Paul Lambert's side slipped a little closer to the relegation-zone. Probably not close enough to warrant any real nerves - after all they are still seven points clear of the Cottagers with a game-in-hand - but it could have been so different if Villa had put away their chances.

As if to highlight Benteke's loss, Villa's Marc Albrighton was only bettered for key passes this weekend by Manchester City's David Silva.  And yet while the Villa man provided the assist for Grant Holt's strike, the three other opportunities he carved out for his teammates were all wasted.

PlayerKey PassMins
David Silva 6 77
Marc Albrighton 4 89

In total, Villa created a total of 10 key passes to set up goal-scoring chances for a teammate, and yet only one was converted.  Had Benteke been fit and available, the game may just have been beyond Fulham before Hugo Rodallega netted a vital goal with four minutes of normal-time to play.

PlayerKey PassMins
Marc Albrighton 4 89
Grant Holt 2 90
Andreas Weimann 2 90
Ryan Bertrand 1 90
Ashley Westwood 1 90

With Benteke out for some time, it is up to Lambert's other front-men to take on the goal-scoring responsibility. Because as Saturday showed, they have the players to create the chances; they now just need to start putting those chances away.

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