Darren Bent’s double at the Emirates yesterday took his tally for Villa to 9 goals in just 15 games. When the club signed the former Sunderland man for an initial fee of £18m many, including some Villa fans, were quick to assume that the club’s record transfer was a panic buy with Houllier’s side tantalisingly close to the relegation zone. Bent made an immediate impact at Villa Park, scoring the only goal in the 1-0 win over Manchester City in January and has been scoring regularly ever since with the weekend’s brace joining an impressive double away at Everton and a fantastic headed equaliser at Stoke to name a few.
The aplomb with which the England international took his first goal showed his class and proved his worth after a January signing in which his transfer was eclipsed by the likes of Andy Carroll, Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez. The latter of the three has arguably been the signing of the window but his impact is less dramatic than that of Bent’s at Villa, despite Liverpool’s rise since his arrival. A telling stat regarding Darren Bent is that without his goals, Villa would have 36 points and sit second bottom in the league. I know that other player’s would have scored some goals in his absence but none come close to the effect that the front man has. Another indicator of his signing’s importance is his old club Sunderland’s demise since he left. All of this and more, I analyse for you now.
Bent has become Villa’s leading league scorer in well under half of his closest challengers appearance having netted 9 times in 15 games (Ashley Young – 7 in 33, Downing – 6 in 37). Compared to the other strikers at the club he is in a completely different league with Heskey having scored 3 in 19 appearances (8 as sub) and Agbonlahor fairing even worse with the same number in 25 appearances (7 as sub). Bent’s record of a goal every 143.9 minutes in the league streets ahead of Villa’s second best goals per minutes marksman in the league, who some may be surprised to find out is Heskey with a goal every 303 minutes, followed by Albrighton with a goal every 350.
His goals on Sunday were set up by Walker and Young respectively, both of whom don’t seem likely to be at Villa Park next season, so ensuring the club bring someone in to help the likes of Downing and Albrighton provide for him may be key this summer. However, one key fact is that Bent doesn’t need many chances to score and since he has joined the club he has proven himself as a real poacher worthy of his high price tag. Since joining Villa the striker has had just 26 shots in his 15 games and in scoring 9 of them, converts a chance in under 3 shots. Crucially Bent goes by the theory that if you hit the target than your more likely to score! Crazy theory I know. Of his 26 shots, just 7 have been off target, meaning his 9 goals in 19 shots on target rate is just over 1 in 2. Villa haven’t had a goalscorer of his quality at the club since Yorkie.
Finally, if you take a look at Sunderland’s form since he left, which has to said has coincided with an awful amount of bad luck on the injury front for the Black Cats, Bruce’s side have the 2nd worst league record having picked up just 10 points in 13 games, losing 9 of those. In those 13 games, Sunderland have failed to score on 6 occasions and they have looked blunt without him.
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