Unai Emery Has Taken Ollie Watkins' Game To A New Level

Watkins has scored 10 goals in 17 matches under Emery in the Premier League
07:01, 15 Apr 2023

Aston Villa are sixth in the Premier League, something no one could have ever predicted heading into the season. Unai Emery has completely revitalised the side after the underwhelming stint of his predecessor Steven Gerrard.

The Spanish coach has overseen 17 matches in the top flight since his return to England with Villa and his side have won 11 games under his leadership - propelling them from league strugglers to chasing European football.

Six of those wins have come away from home, with Emery having only overseen eight matches on the road with his team, the kind of success rate needed to finish inside the top six. Many of the Villa squad have been given a new lease of life since the manager’s arrival and there is one player in particular, who has been integral to firing Villa into this position is Ollie Watkins.


The striker has been in the best form of his Premier League career since Emery took over the reins, scoring 10 goals to help carry his team up the table. He only found the back of the net twice before Emery arrived. He has had his ups and downs at Villa Park during his step up to English football’s promised land but it was never in doubt that with time and the right mentor, he would thrive in the Premier League.

Back when he was netting on a weekly basis for Exeter City in League Two back in 2016, you just knew he was a forward destined to play at the highest level and after his fruitful spell with Brentford in the Championship, before his move to Villa, there was seemingly no doubt about it.


His time spent with Villa hasn’t been the most stable with Watkins onto his third permanent manager in B6 after playing under Dean Smith and Gerrard. He was able to score goals under both coaches but you can see how his game has been enhanced by the tactical mind of Emery and that all stems from his vast experience in Europe with both Sevilla and Villarreal. He is, after all, the coach who has won the most Europa League titles with five, so he knows not only how to get clubs into that competition, but also ensure that players are prepared for that even greater step up.

Watkins is looking ready to step into the fray with each passing game. He is full of confidence, finding the back of the net regularly, but most importantly his link-up play is excelling too. The attacker has been demonstrating all the attributes of a striker who can flourish in the Europa League. 

The composure he showed with his late chip against Nottingham Forest last time out was a thing of beauty and you can expect a lot more from him in the final weeks of the campaign with Villa now fighting to hold onto a place in the top six.

With the form that he is in right now, opposition defenders won’t want to face him because he is a player who has reached another level in his development and Villa are gladly profiting. Watkins and his team face a tough test against top four hopefuls Newcastle United on Saturday at Villa Park which will determine where they are at in their evolution under Emery. Eddie Howe’s Magpies have been excellent defensively all year but even they will be wary of the threat Watkins possesses when they go to battle this weekend.

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