Villa made to sweat as main-man Benteke misses out on potential survival clash at Wigan, but will exiled Bent get the nod?

By Gerard Brand

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Aston Villa head into their final game of the season without goal machine Christian Benteke, and may need a result at Wigan to ensure a 25th consecutive year in the top flight.

The Belgian, who has weighed in with 19 Premier League goals for Paul Lambert's side this season, was sent off for a second yellow card in today's 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea.

Benteke now has 14 Premier League goals in 2013, three more than any other other player in England, and behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in Europe's major leagues.

Off: Villa's key man will be suspended for the trip to Wigan after being dismissed against Chelsea

Off: Villa's key man will be suspended for the trip to Wigan after being dismissed against Chelsea

Centre of attention: Benteke had put his side ahead in the first half, but was sent off with scores still at 1-0

Centre of attention: Benteke had put his side ahead in the first half, but was sent off with scores still at 1-0

Villa's main man scored the opening goal of the game, expertly fending off Gary Cahill before slotting past Petr Cech.

But his sending off with the scores at 1-0, as well as Villa having an extra man at the time, turned the match in Chelsea's favour, leaving Villa's survival on a knife-edge.

The officials had a lot to deal with over the 90 minutes, with referee Lee Mason at the centre of attention after sending off Ramires in the first half for two bookable offences.

Bizarre: Villa boss Paul Lambert was confused by some of referee Lee Mason's decisions in the defeat

Bizarre: Villa boss Paul Lambert was confused by some of referee Lee Mason's decisions in the defeat

It also looked as if Chelsea should have been awarded a goal with the scores at 1-1, but it was difficult to tell whether Demba Ba's effort was over the line or not.

Villa boss Lambert had is own qualms with the officials, questioning some of the decisions made and claiming his young side deserved more.

'I thought some of the decisions were bizarre,' said Lambert. 'The referee missed the John Terry one, he's taken down Yacouba Sylla. You've got to be big enough to make that decision.

'My own team were absolutely fantastic, they gave everything they had and certainly didn't deserve that.

Tough: Benteke was proving to be a handful for Chelsea defenders in the first half, and Villa missed his presence

Tough: Benteke proved to be a handful for Chelsea defenders, and Villa missed his presence

Dangerous: Benteke could have been sent off in the first half for this elbow, but escaped only with a yellow

Dangerous: Benteke could have been sent off in the first half for this elbow, but escaped only with a yellow

'We should have won the game. I thought we looked great and played good football, we had a good tempo.

'They were fabulous, you can see it in the crowd, the way we played - they're getting better and better. They certainly never deserved to lose the game.'

With his aerial prowess and ability to bring Villa's midfield three into the game with his back to goal, Benteke will be missed against a Wigan side whose fate may be in their own hands.

But Roberto Martinez's side must first travel to Arsenal on Tuesday, and Wigan need a win at the Emirates to put the pressure on Villa.

Been here before: Wigan need a win at Arsenal on Tuesday to set up the final day clash at the DW, but it proved no tall order for them last term after a 2-1 win put them on the road to survival again

Been here before: Wigan need a win at Arsenal on Tuesday to set up the final day clash at the DW, but it proved no tall order for them last term after a 2-1 win put them on the road to survival again

Anything other than a win will keep Villa in the top flight for another season, and make the game on May 19 a survival party for the men from the second city.

A draw for Wigan may be enough to keep them in touch with other relegation candidates, depending on Sunday's Premier League results.

Villa may call upon exiled striker Darren Bent to lead the line at the DW Stadium, despite making only 15 appearances this term.

The 24million striker has started just once in the Premier League in 2013, with Lambert and the Villa fans alike preferring a 4-3-3 system with Andreas Weimann, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Benteke up front.

Lambert's next battle will be to keep Benteke, who will undoubtedly be tracked by numerous clubs this summer having scored 42 percent of Villa's goals this season.

Return? Villa could recall exiled striker Darren Bent (above left), who has made just one league start in 2013

Return? Villa could recall exiled striker Darren Bent (above left), who has made just one league start in 2013

Bent

 

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

I hope they relegate

Click to rate     Rating   9

Villa fans sing about letting a player die, on the day they are supposed to be showing respect to an ex-player with a life threatening condition, now that's what you call class. givemestrength , Birmingham Maybe you can tell us all how Terry showed contempt, I doubt it though as I don't think you know what the word means.

Click to rate     Rating   10

Villa could of got a lot more out of that game, why on earth lambert didn't make any subs is beyond me

Click to rate     Rating   1

In what way did Terry show contempt for Petrov?

Click to rate     Rating   7

Terry is a decent player but a disgrace of a man, the day was about Petrov and Lampard both model pro,s a credit to their clubs and the game. Well done Lamps on becoming Chelsea,s all time top scorer an incredible achievement from midfield and a sad farewell to our Skipper forced to retire to battle cancer, a warrior on and of the pitch!

Click to rate     Rating   36

Davekelly25 quite a bit if you watched the game. Have a go at defending your captain's behavior today, utter contempt for Stan petrov on what was supposed to be his day. Not sure I have witnessed any player prepared to stoop so low to sneak a win. Feigning injury to get trekkers sent off, hauling sylla down when through on goal, sweet talking the ref to avoid censure, etc etc etc. Well done lampard though, your captain not fit to lick your boots

Click to rate     Rating   19

Davekelly25 quite a bit if you watched the game. Have a go at defending your captain's behavior today, utter contempt for Stan petrov on what was supposed to be his day. Not sure I have witnessed any player prepared to stoop so low to sneak a win. Feigning injury to get trekkers sent off, hauling sylla down when through on goal, sweet talking the ref to avoid censure, etc etc etc. Well done lampard though, your captain not fit to lick your boots

Click to rate     Rating   3

- Boycott , Somewhere, 11/5/2013 19:41, what help did Chelsea got from the ref you mug? Considering the fact Chelsea were playing a man down they did well. I am guessing you are a Spurs fan, and how does this article interest you since you aren't supporting neither?

Click to rate     Rating   36

No chance of going down, Sunderland and newcastle wont pick up anymore points, and wigan have to beat arsenal. Chelsea got a lot of help from the ref today, looking forward to seeing lamberts villa next season. There was some impressive football today, link up play was quite good.

Click to rate     Rating   8

Villa fans will be willing Arsenal to win on Tuesday to ensure we are safe

Click to rate     Rating   56

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