Christian Benteke’s struggles in front of goal continued in Liverpool’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat to West Ham United, during a troubled season for the No. 9.
Benteke played all 120 minutes in attack on Tuesday night’s Boleyn Ground loss, firing a number of good chances off target as Liverpool pushed for a winner.
The Belgian has come under fire from Reds supporters throughout 2015/16, as he struggles to justify the club’s £32.5 million outlay to bring him to Merseyside from Aston Villa.
Incredibly, another two hours without a goal in east London means Benteke hasn’t scored in 668 minutes in all competitions (via Transfermarkt.co.uk).
This covers all of the striker’s appearances so far in 2016, with his goal last coming last after half-time in Liverpool’s 1-0 win away to Sunderland at the end of December.
In that time, Benteke has played 180 minutes against League Two side Exeter City and three and a half hours against the Hammers in the FA Cup.
This troubling run is a by-product of a season of struggle for the 25-year-old:
- Only three Premier League strikers (Troy Deeney, Salomon Rondon and Shinji Okazaki) have averaged more minutes per goal than Benteke (330).
- Benteke has scored the joint-least goals from open play (1).
- Only Southampton‘s Graziano Pelle has averaged more shots off target per 90 minutes than Benteke (1.5).
- Only two players have averaged fewer shots on target per 90 than Benteke (0.7).
Benteke is suffering with a considerable crisis of confidence, as particularly seen when he is called upon to start in the Liverpool attack.
This is perhaps why Jurgen Klopp has opted for Roberto Firmino as his first-choice centre-forward in league encounters in 2016, with Benteke restricted to a role as an impact substitute.
Having sanctioned a big-money spend on the former Genk man last summer, Liverpool may now be rueing the striker’s predicament—as he looks unlikely to arrest his poor form any time soon.
Having not started a Premier League game since January 2nd and now with Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi back fit, you can begin to question whether Benteke will ever start a league game again for the club.
(All statistics via WhoScored.com, and based on strikers with 10+ appearances when starting in the Premier League)