Darren Bent marked his Villa debut in dream fashion, scoring the only goal in a fantastic 1-0 win over Manchester City, but how has he really faired in his first 5 games at the club. Coming with the burden of an £24m price tag, Bent needed to start well and did exactly that on his home debut, following his City winner with a second against their fierce rivals Manchester United on his third appearance. During his time at the club he netted his second senior international goal against Denmark last week and has shown what most expected of him, the tendencies of the poacher striker. A right place, right time striker with a knack for the composed finish. Some Villa fans have questioned what else he has offered but shouldn’t forget that if he scores goals, what else do you really need.
Basics first then. In his five appearances he has racked up 417 minutes of football, all in the Premier League having missed the last round of the FA Cup due to being cup tied. In this time in a claret and blue shirt he has netted twice at a rate of 1 every 209 minutes, picking up an assist in the process last time out against Blackpool.
So here’s a more in-depth look into Darren’s passing stats as well as free-kicks awarded/conceded, including offsides, and most importantly his shooting figures. So let’s start off with the most trivial of the three. Interestingly, maybe, Bent has given away far more free-kicks than he has won. In 17 free-kick related incidents, the 27-year old has been on the receiving end just twice, having fouled an opponent 9 times and been caught offside 6. Despite this foul rate he is yet to pick up a booking for the club so that means very little but its just information I had to hand!
Passing next and some slightly more encouraging findings. Having made 76 passes in total, 52 have hit their target at a success rate of 68.42% which isn’t too bad for a striker. Bent’s best game in terms of retaining possession was against United when he completed 19 of his 23 passes at a rate of 82.61%. However in his last two appearances, against weaker opposition might I add, Bent has looked slightly less sharp and indeed slightly less involved. Over the two games against Fulham and Blackpool, the forward has made just 19 passes, misplacing 6, and he needs to insert himself into the game more often in my opinion. Despite this, last time out, one of his 5 out of 7 successful passes did find Gabby Agbonlahor to set-up Villa’s opener in what was a perfectly weighted lay-off.
Finally, and most importantly, shooting. Despite scoring two goals in his opening 5 matches, Bent has attempted just 11 efforts at goal, just over two a game, hitting the target on 6 occasions at a goals per shots on target rate of 33.33%. However, having missed the target 5 times, two of which were blocked, his chance conversion rate is significantly lower at 18.18%.
In my opinion Houllier needs to try the, as yet, untested partnership of Bent and Heskey. It’s common knowledge that forwards like playing with Heskey, with the likes of Owen and Rooney profiting from the big man’s unselfish play. I know that Bent has been very effective as a lone striker in his most effective spells at Charlton and Sunderland, but it is certainly an option worth investigating. Young seems to have a fairly decent rapport with the striker but they offer too similar attributes and the big man, little man theory is one which has worked time and time again.
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