Monday, October 3, 2022

Alan Smith Urges Arsenal To Move In For This Aston Villa Striker: Can Gerrard Afford To Lose Him?

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Abhinab Ghosh
A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.

In a recent article with Sky Sports, ex-England striker Alan Smith urged his former club Arsenal to move in for Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins. Smith wrote,

“In terms of his movement, maybe Ollie Watkins is a striker I’d have thought Arsenal would look at, but are they looking at him? I’m not sure Steven Gerrard would be letting him go in a hurry.

“However, that kind of mobile central striker that will really threaten in behind defenders, perhaps, is a bit more like it.”

Watkins’ Recent Form At Villa Park

Watkins is experiencing an up and down season with the Villans but has performed at a high level since the appointment of Steven Gerrard as the club’s new manager. The Torquay-born sensation has banged in five goals and provided one assist in 15 matches for the West Midlands side this season across all competitions.

The English centre-forward has been a consistent performer for Aston Villa in the final third as he is averaging 2.2 shots, 1.1 key passes and 1.2 dribbles per 90 minutes in the Premier League. However, he has been a bit untidy when linking up play with others around him, based on his pass completion rate of 73.7% in the top tier of English football (stats via whoscored).

Aston Villa (Ollie Watkins)
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 27: Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa is challenged by Luka Milivojevic of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Aston Villa at Selhurst Park on November 27, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Can Aston Villa Boss Steven Gerrard Afford To Lose Watkins?

Watkins is a quick and agile striker who can make some intelligent runs with the ball in behind the opponent’s backline. He has got a great leap in him that allows him to win a few headers for his side in the final third. The English sensation can be a streaky scorer in front of the opposition goal but needs to work on improving his link-up play if he intends to win a few trophies at the highest level.

Arsenal could be a good step for Watkins at this stage of his playing career. Hence, Steven Gerrard might find it difficult to keep hold of his prized asset if the Gunners move in for him in the not-too-distant future.

Watkins remains one of the first names in Gerrard’s teamsheet, so the Villans head coach simply cannot afford to lose him next year. Aston Villa would be wise to try everything in their power to retain Watkins’ services until the summer of 2025 when his current contract at Villa Park is set to run out.

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