In our latest article we compare the two Belgians who have taken the Premier League by storm this season in Christian Benteke and Romelu Lukaku.
Christian Benteke began his senior career at Belgian side Genk before switching to Standard Liege. His time at Liege was dominated by loan spells although he did pick up a Belgian League winners medal in the 2008/2009 season. In 2011, Benteke returned to former club Genk where he caught the eye, notching 19 times in 37 games. This earnt him a move to Aston Villa in a deal thought to be worth around £7m. Since arriving at Villa Park, Benteke has grabbed 19 goals in 36 games in all competitions, a great return from such a young player in his first season in the Premier League.
Lukaku signed for Anderlecht in 2009 at the age of just 16 and within days was thrown into the first team. In the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 seasons, Lukaku bagged 19 and 20 goals respectively and after being dubbed 'The New Drogba', things looked bright for the young Belgian. In the 2011 Summer transfer window, Lukaku joined Chelsea for a fee of around £17m , seemingly a big risk on such a young player. After failing to feature much for the Blues, Lukaku went on loan to midlands side, West Bromwich Albion. This wasn't a very high profile deal but it has ended up paying dividends for Albion as the big Belgian has hit 13 goals in the league this season.
Here's how the two have performed in the Premier League this season
(As of 26/04/13):
These are some very interesting stats; what I think is most interesting is the difference in minutes played. Although Benteke has only had 1 more appearance than Lukaku, he's played not far off a thousand more minutes than him. Steve Clarke doesn't always opt to start with Lukaku due to the availability of other attacking options such as Shane Long.
With 15 goals to Lukaku's 13, Benteke comes out on top narrowly in terms of scoring this season. The stat that sets the two apart the most is the chances created. Lukaku has created 26 chances but Benteke has created a staggering 44. Benteke easily takes that one. Lukaku pulls it back with shot accuracy, comfortably topping Benteke in that respect. However, Benteke does come out on top in aerial duels won, very easily. Lukaku has a slightly better pass accuracy but in the end Benteke wins 3-2, although the stats should be taken with a huge pinch of salt due to the fewer minutes that Lukaku has played. One thing you can't deny is that both have some very impressive stats there!
Looking at both players tactically, Benteke can be desribed as a complete forward in my opinion. Not brilliant at hold-up player but he has a great jump on him and gets his head to a lot. On the floor Benteke is quick and crafty, he has that killer instinct for goal and is always looking to score. Benteke's pretty quick too and attacks the ball with pace. Lukaku is slightly different, much better at holding the ball up but perhaps not quite as lethal. Both are incredibly powerful players but I think Lukaku can boast marginally better strength. Lukaku has a thumping shot on him and an excellent work rate, he is also an intelligent footballer who's decision making is very impressive for someone of such a young age.
Overall, it is a very close one. There is absolutely no doubt that I'd have both players in my team but I think right now I'd just about favour Benteke. My reasoning for this is partially down to age but also reliant on the team around him. Benteke is 22 and whilst you couldn't call that experienced, he does have 3 years on Lukaku and this means he is closer to his peak and is probably a more mature player. Having said this, I do feel that Lukaku has more potential than Benteke. Also, Benteke, playing at Villa has been at a struggling team that have been shipping in goals all over the place but he has always stood out and grabbed vital goals, whereas Lukaku has been in an excellent West Brom side who've surprised everyone and been in the top 10 for most of the season. I'd argue that Benteke has managed to do it with a worse team around him, making his feats this season even more impressive. This is an incredibly close battle but I'll stick by saying that Benteke just just shades it! One thing's for sure, Belgium have one heck of a strikeforce on their hands!
Who do you think's better?
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!