Crystal Palace

Opinion: Frustrating Benteke is no longer fit to be Crystal Palace’s No.1 striker

Opinion: Frustrating Benteke is no longer fit to be Crystal Palace’s No.1 striker

Crystal Palace have shown promising signs in both their 2-0 victory over Fulham and 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.

And if the performances from the above games are anything to go by, then the Eagles should have a season where they do not end up caught in the midst of a relegation battle.

One thing that will worry manager Roy Hodgson, though, is the form of Christian Benteke.

Benteke initially started life well in south London after his £27m move from Liverpool back in the summer of 2016 (via BBC Sport).

In Crystal Palace’s 2016/17 Premier League campaign, the Belgian scored 15 goals and his displays were very similar to the ones he showed at Aston Villa — where he played his best football.

However, the following season, Benteke’s form dipped dramatically with the Belgium international only managing to hit the back of the net on three occasions in 31 appearances.

And, while Benteke’s lack of efficiency in front of goal is what is likely to most concern Hodgson, the 27-year-old’s overall centre-forward game has been equally as poor.

What made £19.8m-rated (via Transfermarkt) Benteke a No.9 that even the high-calibre Premier League central defenders feared was what he could bring to his team when playing with his back towards goal and his aerial prowess.

But these days the former Liverpool striker struggles to hold the ball up well while he is no longer as dangerous in the air as he once was.

His lay off to team-mates is never passed at the appropriate pace and too much power is often put into headers.

Supporters can cope with a misfiring No.9 but, when basic centre-forward responsibilities are not carried out properly, that is when frustration starts spill — something that the Selhurst Park faithful have not been afraid to show.

With Connor Wickham injured, Alexander Sørloth, who has also had his struggles in front of goal, is the only natural No.9 Hodgson has been able to call upon in place of Benteke.

But with loan signing Jordan Ayew at the club for the season, Hodgson should really consider dropping the ex-Aston Villa man now that he has another alternative up front.

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