Talking tactics: Watkins class and wingers decisive in Villa’s win vs Everton

Aston Villa secured an impressive 2-1 win over Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday night, with a much-needed return to form performance wise too.

Villa have struggled over the past few months both in terms of results and the quality of our displays, with the absence of Jack Grealish weighing heavily on us too.

READ MORE: Five key talking points as Aston Villa impress in win over Everton

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However, there were signs of us finding our form again in the draw with West Brom, albeit we needed a late equaliser to claim a point and so it was ultimately still a disappointing outcome.

That said, we picked up from where we left off on Merseyside, producing our best attacking display in months in what was a frenetic and highly entertaining clash with the Toffees.

Watkins outstanding in leading us to win

It’s been an excellent first year at Villa for the 25-year-old, as he took his tally to 15 goals along with four assists in 36 appearances across all competitions. 13 of those goals and all four assists have come in the Premier League.

His goal at the weekend encapsulated everything he does so well. From the energy and intensity to press high up the pitch and put Mason Holgate under pressure and force the error to win the ball off him, to then composing himself in front of goal to find the back of the net.

It was a superb individual goal from Watkins, and it gave us a massive lift early in the game, albeit we did concede an equaliser not long after.

Nevertheless, Watkins has had a fine season so far, and this was a perfect example of what he has brought to the team. Villa and Dean Smith have undoubtedly found a long-term solution up top.

Wingers make important contribution

Consistency has been a problem for our wide men, as although Anwar El Ghazi, Bertrand Traore and Trezeguet have all made important contributions, it’s been too up and down from them all year.

Especially with Grealish still sidelined, we need more from them to create on the flanks and to also offer a goal threat themselves.

Traore was tricky throughout as he showed more inventiveness and skill out on the right side, while El Ghazi came up with a stunning winner to seal the three points.

As seen in the tweet below, the pair actually linked up for the winning goal, with Traore playing a key pass to create a 1v1 situation for El Ghazi, who took full advantage and produced a rocket of a strike.

The pair need to now build on this and maintain this level starting against Man Utd this weekend.

Barkley improving after slump

Following his injury setback, Ross Barkley really struggled to find his form again and it has led to an extended period out of the starting XI.

That in turn has raised serious question marks over his future at Villa beyond this season, as his loan spell will expire at the end of the campaign.

While it may already be too late for the Chelsea loanee, he has certainly improved over the last two games, and his performance at Everton was a major plus.

Unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet himself as he hit the woodwork, he was much more effective with his work in the final third. His distribution was more accurate, his energy levels were higher and his confidence looked to be coming back.

Combined with Traore and El Ghazi, it caused Everton problems all night and led to us creating plenty of opportunities to make it more comfortable. While it was frustrating that we didn’t capitalise, it was great to see our attacking quartet all look much more influential collectively.