After enjoying a superb debut campaign in the Premier League last year, Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins would have fancied his chances of kicking on again for the new season.
Instead, the man who was dubbed a “machine” by The Athletic’s Gregg Evans simply hasn’t been at the races this term, and it’s quite incredible to think that after seven appearances in the top flight in 2021/22, he has managed just the one goal and hasn’t provided a single assist either.
A number of Villa fans were critical of Watkins’ ineffective performance against Arsenal last time out in the Premier League when Dean Smith’s men fell to a dismal 3-1 defeat at the Emirates Stadium.
During a discussion for the Birmingham Mail before that game against the Gunners, Ashley Preece delivered his verdict on why the striker appears to be struggling this season, saying: “The injury he picked up in pre-season hasn’t helped, nor has Dean Smith’s decision to flip the script and play him with Danny Ings in a two-man attack. The pair appear to be on different wavelengths at the minute.
“Watkins, for me, is still adjusting to Smith’s new system. I think his confidence has taken a hit while it can’t be too nice seeing new signing Ings banging them in already, as opposed to Watkins, last season’s main man. You would have hoped his strike at Spurs would have given Watkins a new lease of life but, against Wolves, he struggled once again.”
If Smith opts to revert back to a four-man defence with two wingers, then Watkins dropping out would allow Danny Ings to operate as the lone striker and the likes of Leon Bailey and Emi Buendia to be utilised in their more natural positions.
The £34m-rated Watkins could even do with being dropped just to light a fire under him, too.