Aston Villa were subject to their second consecutive 1-0 defeat to a side fighting relegation as they lost at home to struggling Watford on Saturday afternoon.
Emmanuel Dennis scored the only goal of the game in the 78th minute, securing the visitors’ first victory in all competitions since beating Manchester United 4-1 three months ago as well as extending Villa’s form to one win in eight in all competitions.
It was the first time the Villans had failed to score in a home game this season, with Steven Gerrard’s side’s attack particularly toothless.
After last weekend’s defeat to Newcastle, the 41-year-old opted for a change at striker, swapping Ollie Watkins with Danny Ings. However, the decision failed to pay off.
The striker managed to produce three shots with one considered to be a big chance, two of which were off-target and the other blocked. Moreover, the Englishman lost 90% of his duels, winning just one.
With just 33 touches, only goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez touched the ball on fewer occasions, with Ings also losing possession seven times as well as making four fouls and passing the ball 17 times.
There was little defensive output from the striker too, with just one clearance and one interception and no tackles or blocks as well as being dribbled past once.
In what was the forward’s first start for a month, the game against Watford was certainly an opportunity for Ings to boost his status in the eyes of manager Steven Gerrard, who opted to give the 29-year-old a run out in favour of Watkins who hasn’t scored for two months.
So far, the striker has four goals in a Villa shirt to his name, with the most recent strike coming on 2 January against Brentford whilst Watkins has five. Steven Gerrard will certainly be looking for stronger output from his strikers in the coming weeks as the West Midlands outfit look to ensure they enjoy a successful second half of the campaign.
With Villa sat in 12th, the season could still go one of two ways. Either, Gerrard’s side secures a comfortable top-half finish with European qualification the ambition for next season, or conclude the campaign mediocrely and finish in mid-table.
What is certain though is that results like Saturday’s and a lack of goals from forwards will only tip the scales one way for Aston Villa.