Libor Kozak's Potential Impact for Aston Villa After Christian Benteke's Injury
Welcome to Aston Villa, Libor Kozak.
In just his second appearance for the Villains, the deadline-day addition from Lazio found himself entering Saturday's game under inauspicious circumstances, as Christian Benteke left the game in the first half with an injury.
Here's the latest update on Benteke, via Aston Villa's Twitter account:
Paul Lambert told by his medical team that Christian Benteke has a hip flexor injury. Hopes it's not too serious. #AVFC— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) September 21, 2013
Kozak provided the decisive moment for Villa, scoring the game's only goal against Norwich City. After having his initial shot saved, the 24-year-old drifted to the center of the box as Gabriel Agbonlahor scooped up the rebound and raced to the touchline. From there, Agbonlahor played a pass to Kozak, who didn't miss a second time and gave Villa the away goal they needed.
So assuming Benteke misses any sort of time to injury, what can we expect from Kozak moving forward?
Kozak made just five starts and 19 total appearances for Lazio in Serie A play last season, failing to score a goal. But he was a force in the Europa League, tallying 10 times in 11 appearances.
Kozak is certainly a target man in the ilk of Benteke. Joel Ramey of Squawka put together a nice chart of his average duels won:
Kozak should be quite effective in holding up play for the likes of Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann to join in the counterattack. While he probably won't provide a huge danger running at defenders or taking shots from distance, he's proven to be a force in the box when given proper service.
Having spent much of his time at Lazio on the bench behind Germany striker Miroslav Klose, Kozak comes to the Villains as a somewhat raw player, albeit one with plenty of potential. And his addition raises interesting questions about Nicklas Helenius' role with the club moving forward.
Will he be given time to adjust to English football while Kozak deputizes for Benteke? Will be played a bit further back the pitch as a No. 10?
If Benteke misses significant time, it would appear Kozac is the next man up. His strength and ability to play the role of target man makes him the logical choice. But with plenty of options at forward, don't be surprises if Paul Lambert experiments a bit in the absence of Benteke.
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