Liverpool have scored the joint-least amount of goals this season.
|Total Crosses||Chances Created|
So far, the Belgium international has scored once in four matches – a debatable strike against Bournemouth which many Premier League observers felt should have been ruled out for offside.
His performances on the whole have been pretty steady, yet the service into him has been poor and on further reflection, it’s quite easy to understand why.
Benteke is an impressive centre-forward with good feet and a telling burst of speed. Yet, it’s his strength, power, aerial ability and physique which make him such a frightening prospect.
Passes into space, crosses from out wide and diagonal balls are his bread and butter, yet the Reds haven’t done anywhere near enough to utilise his best attributes and get the best out of him.
Writing in his weekly blog for the Liverpool Echo, former defender Mark Lawrenson highlighted a fundamental weakness in Brendan Rodgers’ side and how it hinders Benteke.
“The West Ham defeat underlined a problem that already concerns me: a worrying lack of width. Other than Jordon Ibe, we have no real wide players,” Lawro explained.
“Adam Lallana wants to come inside all the time and Roberto Firmino is a bit like that, as is Philippe Coutinho. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you have balance, and we don’t have that.”
“Teams can just squeeze us so we play right down the middle. Early days, I know. But teams have sussed us out already. Pack the central areas, stick the foot in and you’re likely to give Liverpool a hard time.”
Mis-using Christian Benteke:
The deal which brought Benteke to Liverpool caused plenty of debate, largely as a result the striker’s contrasting style of play to that of Brendan Rodgers’ philosophy.
Attacking midfielders Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana all want to play as a number 10, ultimately leaving the Reds short on width and forced to play through the middle.
As per the table above provided by Opta Stats, it is already stark clear how the Reds channel their attacks through the middle as only Sunderland have posted less crosses this season.
It’s an astonishing statistic, and one which evidently hinders Benteke and highlights precisely why so many supporters, observers and pundits alike questioned the Merseysiders' decision to bring him in.
If Rodgers’ plan was to play narrowly and focus on getting the best out of his technical players, then why did he sanction a deal for arguably the Premier League’s best target man who thrives off wing play?
Interestingly, Southampton, Crystal Palace and Arsenal top the table for the most amount of crosses - presumably to get the best out of Graziano Pelle, Connor Wickham and Olivier Giroud.