Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood believes Gabriel Agbonlahor proved his doubters wrong with his performance in the 2-1 win against West Bromwich Albion, telling BT Sport on Tuesday night that his strike-partnership with Christian Benteke is the best in the Premier League outside the top-six.
Agbonlahor opened the scoring in the 22nd-minute at Villa Park after seeing goal line technology rule out an earlier effort, and could have easily netted a hat-trick in the first-half, such was Villa’s dominance.
West Brom improved after the break, with Saido Berahino heading in the equaliser in 66th-minute, but Sherwood’s side would go on to claim all three points after Ben Foster’s late foul on Matthew Lowton in the box allowed Christian Benteke to slide in a last-gasp winner from the spot.
After penning a new deal until 2018 earlier this season, Agbonlahor has since received his fair share of criticism, having netted just four goals in 26 top-flight appearances to contribute to the club’s recent poor run of form.
The long-serving speedster also managed to score just four goals across all competitions last term, albeit while spending most of his time on the wing, but Sherwood insists he can still rediscover the form which saw him earn three England caps between 2008 and 2009.
“I listened to people when I came in say he’s lost this and lost that,” he told Matchday Live with Fletch and Sav. “I don’t think he’s lost anything. I think he’s a real threat.
“I think you’ve got to appreciate that Christian Benteke and Gabby Agbonlahor, outside the top-six, are the best two strikers in the league in terms of a partnership.”
Sherwood’s claims seem bold considering Agbonlahor and Benteke have scored just seven league goals between them this campaign, but there is little doubt about the latter’s class after he netted 34 times in 67 total appearances during his first two seasons at Villa Park.
Agbonlahor was also a pivotal part of the Martin O’Neill sides which achieved three successive sixth-place finishes between 2008 and 2010, and Sherwood believes it’s just a matter of helping the pair rediscover their confidence.
“Absolutely, but this game will be a huge shot in the arm tonight with them both scoring,” he added.
“Gabby got a huge reception here tonight, and I really enjoyed his performance and was encouraged by it.”