Breaking News: Ollie now plays new role in the villa squad

Ollie Watkins, a striker for Aston Villa, has gained recognition for England due to his excellent performance under Unai Emery. Adam Bate examines the data to determine how Watkins has altered his style of play and why it is crucial to Villa’s development.


I believe I am not well-known.” Ollie Watkins felt that way after being called back to England last month. That under-the-radar label is unquestionably unsustainable after a week in which he added to his Premier League total and scored the game-winning goal for Aston Villa in Europe.


In 2023, Watkins has only been personally involved in two goals more in the Premier League than Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah. This 27-year-old guy is at the peak of his abilities, and under Villa Park’s Unai Emery, his game has changed.


Having won every home game, he has been a key member of the Villa club, which is currently third in the table, just three points from the top spot. Despite his efforts in Europe, Watkins is so important that he hasn’t even been replaced in the Premier League since September.


In most of those Premier League games, he has either scored or assisted. He is the only player with at least five of each, in fact. As many goals as James Ward-Prowse and James Maddison, as many assists as Nico Jackson and Alexander Isak.


Watkins has developed into a true striker who works hard to stay in those central areas for the good of the club, which is fascinating to see. Other attackers are being remade as wide forwards, finding their space in the channels.

This season, he is making more touches in the opponent box. Most importantly, he is also making more touches in the opposition box. He added earlier this year, “Before I was running into the channels and into the corners.” “Now I am staying within the width of the box.”


The visuals that show his heatmaps under Steven Gerrard, Emery, and Dean Smith demonstrate just how significant this change has been. Watkins has faced difficulties because he now has more of a responsibility to convert opportunities into goals as a penalty-box player.


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