Back Villa’s Christian Benteke to do the business in FA Cup final

With a little over two weeks to go until the 2015 FA Cup final, sights are beginning to be narrowed on the Wembley showpiece.

For followers of Aston Villa and Arsenal, May 30 cannot come soon enough, with another expedition to the home of English football set to be made in the pursuit of major silverware.

Other halves will have been informed that under no circumstances are plans to be made for that day, with those unable to get their sticky mitts on one of the golden tickets bracing themselves for an afternoon of nail biting in front of the television.

For those in attendance, the nerves will be jangling just as much – perhaps even more so, with the national stadium no place for losers.

Were Arsenal, the current holders, to come off second best, many of their supporters would only have a short trip across north London to contend with before drowning their sorrows. For Villa fans, a long trip back up the M1 with nothing to show for their efforts doesn’t bear thinking about.

There can be only one winner, though, and both Tim Sherwood and Arsene Wenger will be looking towards key men to provide inspiration on the day.

With both squads blessed with an abundance of international talent, and with one successful visit to Wembley apiece already taken in this season, butterflies should be kept under wraps – with there no excuse for freezing on the big day, regardless of what is at stake.

Expectation levels will be higher around Arsenal, though, than their cup final opponents, and that could work in Villa’s favour as they endeavour to play with freedom and to the strengths of their more obvious attacking weapons.

Of those, none will be causing Wenger more sleepless nights than Christian Benteke.

A brute of a frontman, the Belgium international has rediscovered the kind of form that suggests a talismanic showing in front of the watching world is very much in him.

Sherwood’s arrival at Villa Park has breathed new life into the burly 24-year-old, with the fitness issues and collective lack of firepower that hindered him towards the end of Paul Lambert’s reign cast firmly to one side.

Benteke is once again the man that makes the Midlands outfit tick, with his mere presence enough to ruffle opponents and drag them into areas that they don’t want to be and into battles that they are never going to win.

That will be the dilemma facing Arsenal’s back line at the end of the month. How tight do they get? Do they let him drop off in search of the ball and allow others to pick him up? Can they cut off the supply line into him from deep and from the flanks? Do they have the power to deal with him physically?

A 5-0 mauling of a Villa side that included Benteke at the start of February suggests the Gunners are more than capable of keeping him under wraps, but that was a side visiting the Emirates at their lowest ebb and one loading the bullets as they prepared to part with an under-performing boss.

They are an entirely different animal now, with their 14-goal forward an entirely different beast.

For that reason, and with his record of three goals in five games against Arsenal taken into account and the fact that the Gunners have odds of 1/3 within FA Cup betting markets at the time this article was produced, there should be some value to be found in backing Benteke to be the hero on a day for Villains in the capital.

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