The forward position was an issue for Spurs all season. Emmanuel Adebayor failed to fire after a superb first campaign in Lilywhite. Jermain Defoe started off well, but increasingly looked like the impact sub of years past. We’ve have been linked with moves for both Loic Remy and Christian Benteke this summer, but would one be a better fit than the other?
Loic Remy vs Christian Benteke
Both players featured heavily in the Premier League last season, but Christian Benteke was used as the focal point of Aston Villa’s attack in Paul Lambert’s 4-3-3 formation. Loic Remy was used up top in Harry Redknapp’s 4-2-3-1, but also alongside Bobby Zamora in a 4-4-2 or as a wider forward in a 4-3-3.
Comparing the two is difficult on this basis, but if we look at some statistics for their Premier League performances, we can learn a bit more about each player’s style.
|Loic Remy||Christian Benteke|
|Mins on pitch||1243 mins||2963 mins|
|Mins per goal||207 mins||156 mins|
|Mins per shot||33 mins||29 mins|
|Shots in box||55%||79%|
|Mins per aerial duel||36 mins||6.3 mins|
|Aerial duel win %||32%||57%|
Christian Benteke is an old fashioned number nine. He is big and strong, competing in an aerial duel every 6.3 minutes on pitch, as Aston Villa often go long to him when clearing the ball from defence.
He takes just over three shots per Premier League match, with the vast majority inside the box (79%), hitting the target with 38.5% of them.
Loic Remy on the other hand scores less frequently than the Belgian, but takes shots with similar regularity. There is only four minutes difference between their shot frequency and Remy is the more accurate. That could suggest that the Frenchman is less clinical, but he also takes fewer shots from inside the area due to his varying roles up front for QPR.
Whereas Benteke is heavily involved in aerial duels, Remy only competes for the ball in the air every 36 minutes, winning just 32%. Aston Villa play to their Belgian striker’s strength, whereas QPR tend to move the ball more on the ground to take advantage of Remy’s pace.
If we take a look at each player individually, we can learn a bit more about the way they play.
Christian Benteke has three main uses for Aston Villa.
Firstly, he is a target to hit with any long balls played forward from the back. Second, he also receives passes in to feet when he moves further up the field, which he then lays off to continue the attack. Thirdly, he then moves in to the penalty area where he gets a large proportion of his chances from crosses or balls played in down the channels.
His hat trick in Villa’s 6-1 demolition of Sunderland was a prime example of how the Belgian operates and gets his goals.
His first came after he held the ball up and laid it in to the path of Gabriel Agbonlahor. The Birmingham native’s shot was saved, but after laying the ball off Benteke had moved in to the area and was unmarked, swooping on the rebound. His second arrived from a corner being crossed in, which he met with a towering header. His hat trick was completed after neat build up play, Agbonlahor sliding the ball through the inside left channel to hit him in stride.
If we look at Benteke’s passing map from the game, we can see how he likes to move out to the left side of the formation. Brad Guzan looks for him with long balls from the back. Further up the field, he moves back towards the centre and receives shorter passes played in to him. In the box, he is the focus for crosses.
The passes that he plays himself are mostly backwards or sideways, as a result of laying the ball off having won it in the air or knocked it down for himself. Benteke has a very low pass accuracy, as he struggles when he plays the ball forwards, but completes the easier ones backwards.
A few matches earlier, Benteke’s Aston Villa played Remy’s QPR and we can see a lot of similar things happening.
Christian Benteke is the focus for fewer balls played forward from Brad Guzan this time, but he again drifts out to the left side. Further up the field he does move back towards the centre, but the inside left channel is a key area for him once again, as he receives several passes slid in through here. He is once again the target for crosses put in from both sides, with his goal coming from a cut back.
His own passing once again sees him complete the balls he plays backwards, but the majority of his forwards and sideways passing fails to find their targets.
Loic Remy is a very versatile forward for QPR. He can play as a lone striker, with a partner or as a wider forward.
When QPR used him up top in a 4-2-3-1 he very much played through the centre, but he is not really a target for any longer balls played forward from the back. Without a true target man like Bobby Zamora, QPR built up play through moving the ball forward on the ground, so Remy received much shorter passes.
This style of build up play when in a 4-2-3-1 from QPR is also shown from his passing maps. Against Stoke, his passing is mostly backwards from laying the ball off, but Remy’s job was to move play out to Andros Townsend and Junior Hoilett in the wide positions to receive through balls and low-driven crosses.
When QPR used him as a wide forward in a 4-3-3, Remy has the ability to start off wide, then cut in towards the penalty area higher up the pitch.
He demonstrated this well in QPR’s trip to Southampton, where he received just a couple of long balls played out of the defensive zone. Once again, he was mainly the recipient of shorter, diagonal passes from the midfield. From there he could drive inside, attempting to take players on and get a shot away. His goal came from a long ball played in-behind as he ran the inside right channel, somewhere he’d been trying to dribble in to.
Christian Benteke or Loic Remy?
The two players are actually quite different in their style of play. Christian Benteke is an old school centre forward; dominant in the air and can lay the ball off before getting in the area where he is a predator. Loic Remy is less of a target man and could be argued is better as a wide forward than a central number nine.
If Emmanuel Adebayor is still in Andre Villas-Boas’ plans, then Loic Remy could be a good signing to play as a wider forward in the Portuguese’s fabled 4-3-3. A front three of Bale, Adebayor and Remy could be quite devastating, if the Togolese striker discovers his form of his first season in Lilywhite rather than this.
If Adebayor is on his way out of the exit door, then Christian Benteke would be a better choice to operate as a number nine.
Of the pair, Christian Benteke would fill a more immediate void of finding someone who can get involved in the build up play and score goals. If Emmanuel Adebayor stays at Spurs, then Loic Remy may be a good accompaniment as a wide forward.