Christian Benteke today made his preseason debut, as Aston Villa fell to Luton Town 2-0. The Belgian striker had an uneventful first half that saw him make a few runs that looked promising. He never really had too much of a chance to find the back of the net though, and didn't get to spend his full alotted time on the pitch. He was part of the group scheduled to play in the first sixty minutes, but was replaced at halftime by Callum Robinson. A number of people saw Benteke being a bit slow and holding his groin towards the end of the first half, so it may have been an injury that forced him off. We've yet to hear anything official, and Jack Woodward speculated that Benteke was possibly supposed to be on for just the first 45 minutes. Nevertheless, it's something to keep an eye on.
Elsewhere on the pitch, in the first sixty minutes Aston Villa played a back four that were... not the optimal combination. Their weakness was showcased when Luton's Jon Shaw struck home a ball that had been nicely played in the box in the 22nd minute to give Luton a 1-0 lead that they would take into the half. Yacouba Sylla was Aston Villa's main catalyst in the first half, with a few chances that he couldn't make the best of. Gary Gardner, too, had a lovely opportunity to tie things with a free kick in the 45th minute that was well taken and went just wide of the goal.
The second half started better than the first, and things really picked up when the 60th-minute subs came on. Within five minutes, an Aston Villa goal felt inevitable. Unfortunately, the inevitable rarely favors Aston Villa, and thanks to a total mis-communication between Ron Vlaar and Ciaran Clark, Luton's Jake Howells got behind the defense and put in a chip shot goal to make it 2-0. I know it's preseason, and we shouldn't worry too much, but Villa have yet to win a match and just lost to a Conference side. For those of you who don't know, Conference Premier is the 5th step in the English ladder. That's... not good.
So, the super fast recap: sloppy football in which Christian Benteke is possibly injured and not much of note happens. The preseason!
And finally, a quick rant: AVTV, the source on which we all rely for preseason information, has been absolutely unreliable in the past few weeks. Audio issues prevented Jack Woodward's call from being heard. Now video issues are a constant problem in the domestic friendlies. Today the video feed disappeared for 15 minutes as the second half began and then came back on. This is a service that's been bragging they have all of the preseason matches live, and has been charging people for the privilege of using it. And yet they managed to show none of the Germany matches, and have been spotty at best elsewhere. There's plenty to be excited about with regards to Villa, but the online media service isn't a part of it.
First 60 minutes line-up: Jed Steer; Janoi Donacien, Nathan Baker, Chris Herd, Josh Webb; Fabian Delph, Yacouba Sylla, Gary Gardner; Samir Carruthers, Christian Benteke, Graham Burke
Last 30 minutes line-up: Brad Guzan; Matthew Lowton, Ron Vlaar, Ciaran Clark, Antonia Luna; Leandro Bacuna, Karim El Ahmadi, Daniel Johnson, Ashley Westwood, Callum Robinson, Jack Grealish