This weekend Arsenal welcome Aston Villa to the Emirates stadium in a match that pits the Arsenal defence against a player that if you believe the press, has caught the attention of Arsene Wenger enough to warrant a potential bid in the summer from the Arsenal boss.
Christian Benteke has won many admirers during his first season in English football. Tall, aggressive and strong, he has been a shining light for a hapless Villa side that languishes just one point above the drop zone.
Benteke has admitted to an interest in joining Arsenal but how does he stack up against what Arsenal already have and is he worth the money? Let’s compare him to the man who, for the most part, has led the Arsenal line this season; Olivier Giroud. (All stats are in the Premier League only.)
Both Benteke and Giroud are new comers to the English game this year. Like Benteke, Giroud is over the six foot mark and boasts an impressive physique. Both arrived having had good goal scoring records in their respective leagues and were full internationals however their price tags show a drastic difference; Benteke costing Villa £7,000,000 verses £13,000,000 for French man, Giroud.
What did Arsenal get in return for the extra money? At face value it would appear not a lot. Benteke has made twenty three appearances in the league and Giroud twenty five. In those games the Belgian has chalked up eleven goals compared to Giroud’s nine and contributed four assists to the Arsenal man’s two. Not the best value for money some might say.
However looking a little closer the pendulum starts to swing in the former Montpellier man’s favour. Nine of Giroud’s twenty five appearances have been from the bench which means his minutes on the pitch are considerably less than Benteke’s (1614 v 1873). Also; three of Benteke’s goals have come from the penalty spot which means when comparing the two from open play, Giroud scores every 179 minutes that he is on the pitch. Benteke has so far only managed to net in open play once every 234 minutes.
You may expect the calibre of Arsenal’s support players compared to Villa’s to provide a strong defence for Benteke on that front. However the stats again lean in favour of Giroud. Benteke has been provided with the opportunity to get off 76 shots (73 excluding the 3 penalties) and has a ratio of one open play goal every 9.1 shots. Giroud on the other hand has 68 shots to his name, giving him a more impressive, but hardly world beating ratio of a goal every 7.6 shots.
This brings us round nicely to what is actually the under lying problem for Arsenal in this whole argument. Giroud and Benteke are many things but they aren’t clinical finishers. When you compare both players to another Premier League new boy; Michu, they can’t compete in this category. Michu manages a goal every 4.9 shots for Swansea. That’s the kind of striker Arsenal require this summer. Someone Arsene Wenger can really rely on to put the ball in the net when it matters most.
Benteke is a solid player, of that there is no doubt but he’s not the solution to Arsenal’s current plight. He and Giroud serve the same purpose in a team and with the French man shading pretty much every statistic of note, there seems little point in spending the type of figure Villa will demand, on a player who really won’t add a lot to the Arsenal cause.