The sheen of Aston Villa’s short-lived spell among the Champions League spots at the season’s outset has been well and truly dulled.
The direct result is the club desperately need their star player to start producing in front of goal.
Like an aeroplane which has suddenly lost power in both engines since winning at Anfield, Paul Lambert’s side are in a tail-spin, bolting down the Premier League table to 15th, after losing five on the trot.
Most worryingly of all for their fans, Villa have failed to score a single goal in that run and created less chances than any other top-flight outfit.
Lambert has suggested ring-rusty striker Christian Benteke still needs “six or seven” games before he’s up to speed, but time is of the essence for the free-falling Midlanders.
Having looked like solid top-ten finishers in mid September, many punters would now be more attracted to the 9/2 surrounding relegation or even the 6/1 about Lambert getting the chop next in the Premier League sack race market.
Essential to Villa pulling out of this nosedive and putting off such doom-mongering, is the Belgian international making a far more rapid return to form than Lambert anticipates.
Since arriving from Genk two summers ago, Benteke has twice reached double figures in league goals and his value to Villa can’t be exaggerated.
Such a long period out with an injury is bound to take some sharpness away, but class usually remains permanent and after two appearances on his comeback trail Benteke needs to readjust his sights pronto.
With another tough run of games in the offing, taking in Tottenham and two of the current top four in West Ham and Southampton, there really is no six-or-seven game buffer for Benteke.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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