Martin Keown discusses the problem with Aston Villa's Christian Benteke

The former Arsenal and Aston Villa defender believes Benteke has grown frustrated at his lack of service, and has urged new boss Tim Sherwood to shake up the club's tactical approach.

Martin Keown has told the Daily Mail that Christian Benteke’s struggles for Aston Villa this season stem from frustration at not receiving the ball enough.

Benteke has averaged a substandard 296 minutes per goal this season, having scored just three times in 19 games since returning in October from a ruptured Achilles which left sidelined for six months.

The Belgian striker’s lack of production saw the since-departed Paul Lambert leave him out of line-up for the past two league defeats against Chelsea and Hull, while he failed to find the back of the net after caretaker boss Scott Marshall brought him back into the side for the weekend’s 2-1 FA Cup win over Leicester.

With his form in stark contrast to that which saw him net 34 goals in 67 total appearances during his first two seasons at the club, Keown believes the problem is not so much down to Benteke, but more Villa’s lack of overall class in the final third.

"They don’t look to give him the ball enough. The player is becoming increasingly frustrated,” he wrote in his ‘Tackle Keown’ column.

“When he first came back he was animated, but he seems to be disengaged a bit now as time’s gone on. He’s not given up, but there is no point making a run if the ball isn’t played.”

Having dropped into the relegation zone amid a dismal run of two wins in 21 top-flight games, Villa’s record of just 12 goals in 25 matches has also put them on course to be the Premier League’s lowest-ever scorers.

With the incoming Tim Sherwood having 13 fixtures to save them from the drop, Keown suggests that the former Tottenham Hotspur manager needs to give the team a tactical makeover, speeding up the tempo and going with two men up top.

“Sherwood needs to build a team around him. I’d try to get Gabriel Agbonlahor to play with him as a pair. Be much more direct,” he added.

I think Fabian Delph plays too high up the pitch, he needs to pull further back where he’s more effective.

“There are options to make things happen. But the way they play and are set out... it's too slow. Nobody looks forward, everything is sideways.

“If I was a central defender having to play against Agbonlahor and Benteke, I’d be delighted if they played backwards and sideways passes. I’d feel they got away with it scot free.”

Given how Sherwood set his Spurs team up during his six months in charge last season, one would expect Villa to follow most of Keown’s suggestions moving forward, although whether it will be enough to retain their Premier League status remains far from clear.

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