With the games coming thick and fast in the Premier League now for Aston Villa, Dean Smith will undoubtedly be looking for ways to keep things fresh for his side.
Wednesday night’s clash against West Ham in the Premier League will be Villa’s third game in the space of a week, and that will take its toll, both physically and mentally on the players.
One man who Smith should start tonight to try and inject that extra bit of energy is Anwar El Ghazi.
The Dutchman has found himself out of the side in recent weeks, with summer signing Bertrand Traore getting a consistent run of games in the starting eleven after being slowed ease into the Premier League by Smith.
But whenever El Ghazi has had a run of games himself, he’s impressed no end. He had a prolific spell in December when he went on goal-scoring spree, bagging five goals in the space of five league games.
And, speaking after his goal against Crystal Palace during that run, former Premier League ace Michael Brown said: “Dean Smith told me his training in how he executes those finishes is there for all to see. Craig Shakespeare then backed him straight up when I ran into him later, he just said ‘what a technician he is.’
“He’s practising in training, he has a bad week against Burnley: eight shots, great chances, can’t put one away. Then he scores against West Brom, then goes and puts one in the top bins like he did last night… Magnificent is the word we’re all looking for.”
The £7.2m-rated El Ghazi could come into the side tonight and bring some fresh legs, and ensure Villa don’t get burnout. The Dutchman is the club’s third top-scorer this season, behind only Ollie Watkins and Jack Grealish, and his underlying stats make for impressive reading.
He ranks fourth in the entire squad for shots per game, and second in dribbles, with only Jack Grealish above of him in that respect, and is a real testament to how he’s always tried to make things happen whenever he’s been afforded the chance to play.
Traore hasn’t come close to matching El Ghazi’s end product just yet, and he should be making way for the 25-year-old against the Hammers. He could well be the man to turn things in Villa’s favour when David Moyes’ side come to visit.