Aston Villa head into today’s match against Crystal Palace with a chance to finish in the top half of the Premier League table, something which looked unlikely when Steven Gerrard joined from Rangers in mid-November.
The 41-year-old has endured a turbulent campaign so far, but the chance of a top-half finish would be an excellent base to build upon for next season as Gerrard aims to take Villa into Europe.
However, there is some worrying news from a Villa perspective ahead of today’s match, and it concerns striker Ollie Watkins.
Gerrard stated after the midweek defeat to Liverpool that “there might be a small injury to Ollie and we will have to analyse that”.
Although no more information was given, it could mean that the striker will miss the last three matches of the Premier League campaign. This will be a big worry to Gerrard, who might need to make a few tactical tweaks this afternoon.
Watkins has scored 10 times this season whilst having 2.39 shots on target per 90 minutes. That tally might not seem like much over the course of the season, but he is currently Villa’s highest scorer, with Danny Ings second on seven goals.
This shows the importance of the 26-year-old and may spark fears that the Villans could struggle for goals against Palace, although new permanent signing Philippe Coutinho could well stand up and power the team to victory.
Its clear that Gerrard needs further firepower if he wishes to take the next step with Villa, with a move for Lille’s Jonathan David being touted during the summer transfer window as part of a potential overhaul of the Midlanders’ attacking options.
It looks like an exciting time to be a Villa supporter if that move comes off, but the possible absence of Watkins for the rest of the current campaign could be a big setback in the short-term which will leave Gerrard gutted.