It’s been a fabulous start to life under new manager Patrick Vieira for Crystal Palace, but one player’s outstanding performances have come as more of a surprise than most.
In just 12 Premier League appearances for the Eagles in the opening weeks of the current campaign, Christian Benteke has bagged four goals and provided one assist, including a brace last time out against Burnley.
His tally of four strikes means the Belgium international has already bettered his tallies for the 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 campaigns, highlighting the striker’s remarkable upturn in form over the last 18 months.
When summer signing Odsonne Eduard arrived at Selhurst Park over the summer, it would have been logical to predict that Benteke would have to settle for a much more subdued role this term.
However, the 30-year-old has risen to the added competition for places in extraordinary fashion, producing a string of dominating displays for the south London outfit.
But his improved performances may not have come as a surprise to Vieira, who outlined Benteke’s attributes and credentials following a pre-season game back in August.
“It is a plus to have Christian in our team because in the air, he is one of the best if not the best in the league,” the French tactician told Palace TV. “This is a powerful weapon to have in the squad.
“We have to use it well, and I was really pleased with him scoring the goal. It was his first game after coming back from internationals, the Euros. Coming back and scoring was good for him and his confidence.”
Since then, the 6 foot 2 beast has replicated his pre-season form on the biggest stage of all, and his underlying numbers are further evidence of eye-catching showings that are arguably right up there with the surprisingly dominant Conor Gallagher too.
As per SofaScore, Benteke has had 25 shots this term, has won a whopping 74 duels, made a monstrous 25 clearancesand supplied nine key passes for his teammates.
If he can maintain this sort of form for the rest of the campaign, then Vieira’s charges will be well placed to carry on their surge up the top-flight table.