A look at Christian Benteke's numbers this season compared to last.
Having been dropped from the line-up for the weekend’s Chelsea defeat, Christian Benteke’s Aston Villa form seems to be at an all-time low.
Signed from Genk in August 2012 for a reported £7 million fee, the Belgian striker netted an impressive 34 goals in 67 total appearances during his first two seasons at the club, but suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in a training session last April which left him sidelined for six months.
Making his first-team comeback in October, he has since gone on to score just twice in 15 Premier League games over the past few months and, with his barren run coinciding with Villa's recent 11-hour goal drought, fans have the right to be more than concerned.
Forced to settle for a 22-minute cameo in the 2-1 loss to the league leaders, as Jores Okore netted the team's first top-flight goal since December 20, manager Paul Lambert has even admitted that he is considering keeping the misfiring forward on the bench for tonight’s crucial trip to Hull - an imaginable scenario not long ago.
“It wasn’t a hard decision to leave Christian out. His form has dipped, he knows that by his own admission when we spoke,” he told Sky Sports his week.
“I thought playing Gabby was vindicated, I thought he was excellent. I thought Gabby did ever so well and I expect Christian to take it like any other player and fight their way to get back into the side.”
What’s interesting looking at Benteke’s stats this season compared to last, though, is that there is one distinct area which seems to be the root of his troubles – his shooting accuracy.
The imposing front man has hit the target with just 27% of his shots this term for a 15% drop, while converting a mere 5% of his total efforts into goals.
Much has been made of the lack of chances created behind him, but in fact Benteke has taken more shots per minute than the previous campaign, leading one to whether the problem is just down to confidence at this point.
The 20-times capped international has proven in spurts that he doesn’t seem to be feeling the ill effects of his Achilles damage but, amid the team’s overall struggles, perhaps he is just putting too much pressure on himself?
In that sense, an extended break from the spotlight might not be such a bad thing, although, considering how pivotal the Hull game could prove towards a potential relegation battle, leaving him out at the KC Stadium would be a big call from Lambert.