The season has not started strongly for Crystal Palace with Roy Hodgson’s side winning just two games in the Premier League so far.
A misfiring offence has played its part in Palace’s struggles, with the London side only finding the net five times in those eight league matches and top scorer Wilfried Zaha bagging three.
The return of Christian Benteke after the international break would have helped the Eagles find the net on more occasions, even if Palace fans aren’t exactly fond of the striker during a horrendous run of form, but they now find themselves without his services until the New Year.
Three goals all season for Crystal Palace in what was his worst in English football saw the 27-year-old dropped by Roberto Martínez when the time came to thin out his Belgium squad for the summer’s World Cup in Russia.
The former Genk product had initially been named in his country’s side before the final 23 were announced, having been an international regular since 2010.
If Benteke has any desire to return to his national side and play a part in qualifying for Euro 2020, the striker must rediscover the form he displayed in his first season at Selhurst Park having scored 15 times for his new club.
Belgium’s UEFA Nations League match against Switzerland before a friendly with the Netherlands will act as a reminder of what Benteke is missing as he begins to recover from surgery.
When Benteke was available for selection, he led the line with either Zaha or Jordan Ayew, adding a focal point to the Palace side with a pacey teammate alongside.
Without the presence of the 6 foot 3 striker, Hodgson had to adapt in order to find a solution, opting for a three-man attack with Andros Townsend pushed further up the pitch and Ayew acting as the lone striker.
The change to a three-man attack brought an instant result for the Eagles, with Ayew setting up Zaha for the winning, yet only, goal against Huddersfield. Matches thereafter, however, saw Ayew struggle as the lead man with Palace only scoring once and Zaha failing to provide his usual impact.
Benteke offers a consistent outlet up top that the team can focus on building the link-up play around. Although he’s been out of form since the start of last season, the Eagles seem to be struggling without that central figure to really occupy defenders and Zaha particularly has found it tough to get himself into games. That trend could now unfortunately continue until the new year.
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