December 19 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, February 9, 2013
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce will be wary of the threat posed by Christian Benteke when the Hammers travel to face Aston Villa in the Premier League tomorrow.
Villa currently sit 19th in the table and have struggled so far this season, also falling out of the Capital One Cup and FA Cup to lower league opposition.
One shining light for Paul Lambert’s side has been summer acquisition Benteke who joined from Genk for a reported £7million fee.
The 22-year-old has already scored 10 league goals for Villa this campaign and Allardyce is aware that he poses the main threat to his West Ham side, who are looking to build on last weekend’s win over Swansea.
“He’s the biggest threat,” Allardyce said of Benteke.
“He’s the man who scores the goals for Aston Villa on a regular basis, he’s the focal point for their attacks in that he not only scores goals, but he holds the ball up, he’s strong.
“He’s had a fantastic start in what must have been a very disappointing season so far for Aston Villa.
“It says a lot for what he is as a player when he’s producing what he is in a team that’s been struggling for results.”
Lambert took over at Villa Park last year and has overseen a large turnover in playing staff and now has a very young, inexperienced squad under his guidance.
Allardyce reckons it is vital for Villa’s survival chances that the few experienced players they do possess need to play at their best.
“There is nothing wrong with the effort and will to try and win at Aston Villa,” he said.
“I think what has cost them on occasions is the lapse in concentration at certain times, probably due to the inexperience of the team but you can see that Paul has introduced more experienced players again now.
“It is a mixture of both now but if we can take advantage of anything that is a weakness we will try and do that - for us it is an opportunity to get a result and try and get some points on the board away from home.”
Allardyce believes West Ham’s poor away form, which has seen them score just seven times on the road and accrue only eight points away from Upton Park, means they cannot let Villa rush into a lead as they did in the 3-3 draw at Everton.
“The danger of Aston Villa is that if we allow them to get 3-1 up, I don’t think we’ll come back from that,” he said.
“We can’t afford that. Having the lowest goalscoring ratio away from home in the Premier League is why we haven’t picked the results up.
“We can ill afford to let Aston Villa get off to the sort of start they did against Everton. We’ve got to avoid that at all costs and play our way into the game, making sure we don’t give them any opportunities to score.
“If we can do that and then start to create the chances we always get - and put one or two in the back of the net - that’s what we’re looking for.”
Hammers defender Winston Reid has targeted a positive result at Villa and admits Benteke could prove to be a handful.
“They are still a good side and we have to give them a lot of respect,” he told whufc.com.
“We’ll go there with a gameplan and hopefully bring some points home.
“I think he [Benteke] is a good striker and he has scored quite a few goals already in his first year in England.
“We have to give him respect but we relish the opportunity as defenders to make sure they don’t score.”