Emery delighted with Villa ace’s mentality, crucial impact so far

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery was full of praise for Ollie Watkins again this week as he assessed the forward’s impact in his reign so far.

The 27-year-old has been in fine form since Emery took charge in October, scoring six goals and providing two assists in 10 Premier League games, while he is also currently on a five-game scoring streak.

READ MORE: Emery reiterates clear demands to solve Villa home form struggles

Not only is Watkins adding a clinical edge to his play in front of goal, but he’s posing more of a threat in the final third overall and coupled with his work ethic and defensive efforts while leading from the front, he has firmly established himself as a fundamental figure in Emery’s plans.

While credit must go to the Villa forward for the way he has responded to the new manager’s methods and adapted to the demands placed on him, Emery has also played a vital role in his development and improvement by putting him in positions to be more dangerous and cause problems for the opposition.

Combine those two elements together and Watkins is looking confident and a real presence leading the line for us, and it’s clear from the insight that the Villa boss has provided this week how hard he’s working on the training pitch to get the best out of himself and meet the demands from the Spaniard.

“He’s very competitive,” Emery told the media on Friday, as per VillaTV. “Every day at training, when we are finishing, he wants to take more exercises, he wants to do more at the end of training, individually, with the coaches.

“His mentality is very good. Sometimes we have to stop him; we have to tell him, ‘No, this is enough for today. Tomorrow, more.’

“It’s good. In his mind, we have to keep this mentality because, for him and the team, that spirit is the best. I want to help him as well, trying to support him with my experiences with strikers and giving him the confidence to do more and more.

“I am demanding of him as well when we don’t have the ball, defensively, trying to be together, his attitude defensively is amazing as well. That is the way.

“Defensively and offensively, we try to use his skills, adding his characteristics. He is doing it: scoring and defending with a great attitude. Overall, he is improving in everything.”

The challenge for Watkins is to maintain this great form between now and the end of the season, and continue firing us up the Premier League table in the coming months.

While others must also step up and support him, it’s great to see him flourishing now after struggling earlier in the campaign under the previous boss, and it’s also brilliant to see his hard work paying off while we’re now playing to his strengths and getting more from him.

We’ve always appreciated his hard work off the ball and what he does for us defensively, but the real challenge was to add goals to that on a consistent basis. We’re seeing that now and long may it continue.

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