It’s got to be the most overused football cliches of the 21st Century, but following his £32.5m striker’s first Liverpool goal last night, Brendan Rodgers told a packed press conference, cited here by the official website, that Christian Benteke has a ‘wonderful touch for a big guy’!
To be fair to both manager and player – Benteke certainly has.
The Belgian powerhouse scored in front of the Kop to secure us our second consecutive win of the season, and supplemented his strike with a strong overall performance.
“I thought he was a real handful tonight – you saw all the facets of his game,” Rodgers enthused.
“His hold-up play is outstanding, he’s got a wonderful touch for a big guy and you saw that this evening. He can help the ball on to areas, he can take the ball in, control and switch the game, his touch is good and you see him linking and combining.”
Our manager noted that it’s not solely Benteke’s direct influence on games that helps Liverpool, but the fact that his mere presence in the box will benefit us and give us the opportunity to score scrappier goals.
“There was one moment when the ball came into the box – which is one of the reasons we looked to bring him in – and because of his strength and power, he tried to make contact with it. It dropped and we had a chance with Coutinho to then shoot.
“In my time here, that’s never really happened and the ball’s come in and maybe been cleared out, but because of his physicality and contact, he keeps the ball alive in a dangerous area of the field.
“That will really help and once the players get used to seeing and working with that, it’ll offer us more opportunities to score goals.
“It gives us a different dimension to our game, whilst looking to retain that philosophy to move the ball and get fluency. That will come and grow over the coming months.”
It’s great to see the management has recognised that our ‘footballing philosophy’ should be situational and adaptable. At times during Rodgers’ tenure, we’ve meaninglessly kept the ball to finish the game with more possession than the opposition, instead of mix it up to cause problems.
Benteke doesn’t turn us into a long ball side, but it does mean we become less predictable.
You can read in depth about the tactical diversity Benteke offers us, here.
Next up is Arsenal of course, where the striker will have the difficult task of battling Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscileny. Hopefully, with another week of preparation, he’ll be honed for the challenge – and can score his first Liverpool goal away from Anfield.
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