Talk about a new signing hitting the ground running. Since joining from Championship side Brentford in the summer, Ollie Watkins has been nothing short of a revelation for Aston Villa this season.
The fact he arrived for big-money, and especially for a player whose only experience of football was outside of the English top-flight, the microscope was a lot more focused on him and his performances.
And boy has he blown people away. In just 16 games this season, he’s bagged eight goals, and whilst he may not have gotten on to the score-sheet himself against Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon, he once again proved why he’s been an absolute masterclass.
He had a hand in all three of Villa’s goals in a 3-0 win against the Eagles, and his performance was arguably more impressive given the fact his side were down to ten-men for an entire half of action following Tyrone Mings’ red card for a second bookable offence.
As per Sofascore, he had a mammoth ten shots on goal, hitting the woodwork twice, whilst he also provided three key passes too. And he did his fair share of the defensive work too, leading the line superbly, winning nine total duels and earning two precious free-kicks.
That led The Birmingham Mail’s Villa correspondent Ashley Preece to declare that Watkins was “stupendous” for his work-rate and shift up front.
Reports in recent weeks have suggested that Villa may be in the market for a new striker, with the club’s boss confirming that Wesley’s potential return from injury could play a deciding factor – The Athletic have even gone so far as to say that Bournemouth’s Josh King is likely to be considered again after some summer interest.
But perhaps that shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all.
Smith no doubt played a big hand in convincing the Villa hierarchy that Watkins was the striker they needed to prioritise. And now, the centre-forward himself is delivering a major message to those above him that he is absolutely deserving of being the club’s number nine week-in and week-out for the years to come.
It’s why Johan Lange should seriously consider performing a January U-turn and sticking with what the club have got.