We should all be thankful that the Christian Benteke injury came when it did. If it had happened before the Norwich match, there is a very real chance that Villa would be sitting on a mere 28 points and very much still in the thick of the relegation battle. But as we discussed earlier in the week, Villa seem to be only a couple of points away from securing safety this year. With Fulham this weekend, Crystal Palace next, and Swansea and Hull still to go, there's no reason to think that Villa can't still get 3-9 points. That'll be all they need.
But the way they go about it should be intriguing. Obviously Paul Lambert won't be able to use his favorite lineup anymore. He may still stick with the 4-3-3 that we've grown accustomed to seeing, though. If he does, expect to see a lot more of Grant Holt, though we'll also likely see some Callum Robinson, who has been knocking on the door of getting some playing time. Nicklas Helenius is also still around and may have a legitimate call for more playing time.
Lambert may also move to a 4-4-2 or a 5-3-2, both of which could be used to play smart defensive football while emphasizing the counterattack. If he's willing to actually play Matthew Lowton, we could get the chance to see how Leandro Bacuna plays at positions other than right back. At this point, though, these changes are mostly academic: they'll let us see some new things from Villa while probably not impacting the season's ultimate result. Where the injury to Benteke will be more interesting is this summer, which we'll cover tomorrow morning. In the meantime, how do you think Villa will adjust to missing Benteke for the last seven matches?
- Aston Villa confirm Benteke injury - no World Cup for Christian
- Aston Villa Podcast: Breaking Benteke news, and a preview of Villa-Fulham
- Mounting injury concerns will give Aston Villa difficulty in Fulham match
- More bad news for Villa as Agbonlahor joins Benteke on sideline
- Christian Benteke reportedly tears Achilles tendon