Liverpool FC’s lack of fire power upfront was touted as one of the biggest reasons for a poor season in 2014-15 when the club finished sixth in the English Premier League. Christian Benteke was one of Brendan Rodgers’ primary targets, and the manager has already ensured that he himself adapts to the style of play of the beast that prowls Anfield.
At the peak of his frustration in the 2014-15 season with the Reds struggling, Brendan Rodgers was asked what his side were lacking. The Northern Irishman, who prides himself on playing attacking football said: a Someone to put the ball in the net.” And the analysis of the manager could not be closer to the truth with Daniel Sturridge out injured for most of the season and the strike force of Borini, Balotelli, and Lambert not able to score more than 7 league goals between them.
The solution was signing the Belgian beast from Aston Villa, who had averaged a goal every other game at a club that had battled relegation for most of his stint at Villa Park.
Two games into the new season, Liverpool FC are winning their games in an ugly fashion. Long balls in the box, knock-downs, physicality. Liverpool FC are already a changed team this season – and it’s all down to the Belgian they have up front.
Explaining that while he is all about maintaining a certain core ideology of play, Rodgers was quoted as saying by Liverpool FCa s official website that he will continue to be pragmatic and change his approach as required to enable his side to win games. He also went on to add that it is this idea that has been key to recruitment of players at Anfield this summer.
And Benteke offers just that, something that no other Liverpool FC player does – physicality and the ability to bully defenders.
Benteke won the most aerial duels in the Premier League last season and 4 of his 13 goals were headers. The big Belgian gives a new dimension to the Liverpool FC attack and can occupy the defenders to allow the likes of Coutinho, Sturridge and Firmino to do the damage.
There were fears if the player would adapt to the style of play at Anfield, which were compounded when Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood warned the Belgian to not move to Liverpool FC as there was a no point going to a club where they dona t cross the balla .
However, the player has already got off to a flying start for the Reds, having scored two goals in three competitive and non competitive games combined for the club.
Rodgers had stated that he believed Benteke is a complete forward and will add more than just goals, and after the Bournemouth game, the manager remarked how the Belgiana s physical presence is making Liverpool a more robust unit than before.
a I thought Christian was a real handful. His hold-up play is outstanding,a Rodgers was quoted saying by ESPN FC.
a He has a wonderful touch for a big guy and can control the game. There was one moment when the ball came into the box and because of his strength and power he got a touch, it dropped and Coutinho got away a shot.
a Ia ve not had another who could do that up front in the three years Ia ve been here. It is one reason we brought him in. Once the players get used to that and see it will give us more opportunities. That will come and grow over the coming months.a
Knock-downs in the penalty area? Brendan Rodgers sure is living up to his words that he is willing to change and adapt to win games with the idea of “death by football” of three years ago giving ground to a desire to impose physicality rather than tiki-taka.
One look at the Belgian’s heat map in the game against Bournemouth and it is easy to identify his willingnesss to drop into deeper positions to link up play and provide Liverpool with an outlet.
Benteke clearly is more than just a big header of the ball. He is the player closest to Didier Drogba the Premier League has seen and Brendan Rodgers will want to exploit the strengths of the big Belgian even if that means, at times, compromising his style of play.