When Christian Benteke was sold to Liverpool in the summer, it was always going to be extremely difficult to replace him. £32.5m may seem like an acceptable amount to purchase a replacement of a similar standard, but let’s face it, Villa don’t exactly have the ability to attract players of that calibre. Instead, Tim Sherwood strengthened the entire squad, and used around half of the aforementioned fee to bring in two striking options, whose skillsets differ.
Signed for £6 million, just £1 million short of the amount spent on Chrstian Benteke three years previous, Gestede got off to a remarkable start, coming on in the 59th minute against Bournemouth for his debut, and scoring the winner, securing Aston Villa’s only win of the Premier League season thus far. Since then however, it hasn’t been plain sailing for the Benin striker. He’s failed to nail down a starting position, and has managed zero goals in the five league games after that debut header. He’s looked relatively weak for a player of his size, and his first touch has been poor. One thing that Gestede has proved himself to be excellent at though is heading the ball. Last night’s League Cup tie vs local rivals Birmingham City saw the striker power in a header, which again proved to be the winning goal. Two goals in seven appearances isn’t too bad, but it isn’t great either, especially for a man who was seemingly signed to replace Benteke. As mentioned above, his overall play has been pretty poor, and it’ll need to improve drastically if he’s to become a respected Premier League striker.
Ayew, the more expensive of Villa’s two new strikers has also found life difficult since making the switch from Ligue 1 to the Premier League. No goals in five games is a drastic departure from the 13 he managed for FC Lorient last season. As with Gestede, Ayew has been unable to secure himself a spot in Villa’s starting XI, and when he has made an appearance, he’s been positioned out on the right-hand side of the field. His arrival in the 66th minute against Leicester just over a week ago coincided with Villa’s capitulation, where a 2-0 lead turned into a 3-2 loss. However, when he was subbed on at half-time last night, he, along with Grealish, changed the game. Again, he was positioned out on the right, but he looked a different player. His movement was superb, as was his control of the ball, and he stretched Birmingham City. Yes, he was playing against a Championship side, but it was a huge improvement, and I really hope Sherwood starts him against Liverpool on Saturday, and the player pushes on.
It must be noted that we’re just five league games into the season, and these players will take time to adapt, not only to a new system, but to a new league. The jump from Championship and Ligue 1 to the Premier League is a pretty big one, and I’m confident that with time, both of these new strikers will prove themselves to be quality additions to the Aston Villa squad.