Ollie Watkins Aston Villa

Ollie Watkins: Season of his life

The England forward has been the Villans’ talisman this season, and he is on course to break Christian Benteke’s record for goals in a single Premier League campaign.

It is most certainly no secret that Unai Emery’s Aston Villa are enjoying an incredible season with the Villans performing beyond all expectations so far in the 2023/24 Premier League campaign. As it stands, they are in pole position to secure the final UEFA Champions League spot in fourth place with them 6 points clear of 5th place Spurs with 4 matches left to play.

Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham are very much in the race, and they do have two games in hand on their West Midlands counterparts. With both clubs facing a challenging fixture list, as we enter the final stages of the season, we will soon know which one of these two clubs will go on to secure a highly coveted spot in the Premier League’s top four in what is set to be a tense yet enthralling battle between Villa and Spurs.

Villa Head Coach Unai Emery, who recently signed a new contract with the club, has led the claret and blue revolution this term, and they are still fighting on two fronts; in the Premier League, they are of course challenging for UEFA Champions League qualification for the first time and also for their first European trophy since winning the European Super Cup 41 years ago in 1983 in the form of the UEFA Europa Conference League.

Winning the UEFA Europa Conference League would be Aston Villa’s first major trophy of any description since the Villans beat Leeds United 3 – 0 in the 1996 League Cup Final. Savo Milosevic (20’), Ian Taylor (55’), and Dwight Yorke (88′) were the goal scorers for Brian Little’s side that day at the old Wembley Stadium.

Whilst Emery has been a key figure in Villa’s excellent 2023/24 season, the club has had a talismanic player in the form of England international forward Ollie Watkins.

Watkins, then playing predominantly as a left winger, signed for Aston Villa on 9th September 2020 from then Championship club Brentford for a reported fee of £28 million. The Villa had Dean Smith at the helm back then, and the boyhood fan began Watkins’ transformation into a number nine – he has not looked back since then.

In his very first Premier League campaign (2020/21), he scored 14 goals and got 5 assists in 37 top flight appearances, and followed this up with 11 goals and 2 assists in the season after that (2021/22).

Last season was Ollie Watkins’ most prolific until this season got underway. Throughout the 2022/23 Premier League season, he scored 15 goals whilst also getting 6 assists in his 37 appearances in all as Villa secured 7th place and European football for the first time in 13 years under Emery.

This season has seen the former Exeter City striker enjoy his best-ever season in the top flight to date. At the time of writing, Watkins has found the back of the net no less than 19 times with 12 assists to boot. What makes his goals total even more impressive is that none of his goals so far have been penalties, and he remains the only player in the Premier League to have got double figures in both goals and assists so far.

In terms of goals, he is only behind Erling Haaland and Cole Palmer who both have 20 goals each. The striker does lead the way in assists with Brighton’s Pascal Gross and Newcastle United’s Kieran Trippier having the joint second most assists with 10 each. Watkins’ Villa teammate is also not far behind him with no less than 9 assists himself this term to date.

Ollie Watkins is currently just one goal away from breaking the record for the number of goals scored by an Aston Villa player over the course of a single Premier League season, and he is currently level with Christian Benteke. The Belgian striker got his 19 goals during the 2012/13 campaign. Watkins getting 20 this season would write a new chapter in the history books of this club.

Not only would Benteke’s record be broken with a 20th Premier League goal of the 2023/24 season, but it would also put Watkins in very esteemed Premier League company. If Watkins gets his 20th goal, he will officially become the first English player to have ever scored 20 or more non-penalty goals and get 10 or more assists in a single 38 game Premier League campaign, and he would only be the sixth player overall to do so (Source: Aston Villa Statto).

The only other players to have achieved this feat are all icons of the Premier League, and they are as follows: Luis Suarez, Alexis Sanchez, Mohamed Salah, Thierry Henry – Twice, and Didier Drogba.

Extraordinarily, Ollie Watkins is also amongst the most prolific and creative strikers in Europe’s top five leagues (Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, and the German Bundesliga). Former Weston Super Mare striker Watkins has the second most goal involvements with 31 so far – only Bayern Munich’s Harry Kane has more with 43 (33 goals & 10 assists).

Aston Villa has 6 games remaining in all competitions – four in the Premier League and two (as it stands) in the 2023/24 UEFA Europa Conference League.

Next up for the Villans is Chelsea at Villa Park in a 20:00 kick-off on Saturday 27th April before Unai Emery’s side welcomes Olympiacos to B6 for the first leg of their UEFA Europa Conference League Semi-Final tie on Thursday 2nd May, which is also going to be an 8pm kick-off.

A trip to Brighton follows on Sunday 5th May (14:00 kick-off) before Villa travel to Piraeus in Greece for the second and final leg of their European Semi-Final against Olympiacos on Thursday 9th May (20:00 kick-off).

Liverpool then make the trip to Villa Park for the Villa’s final home game of the season in a 20:00 kick-off on Monday 13th May before facing Crystal Palace in their final game of the 2023/24 Premier League season on Sunday 19th May 2024 in a 16:00 kick-off.

Ollie Watkins will be vital if Villa are to successfully qualify for the 2024/25 UEFA Champions League as well as attempting to win this year’s UEFA Europa Conference League. It does look likely that Watkins will continue to make Villa history and score the most goals in a single Premier League campaign of any Aston Villa player ever.

Excitement and anticipation are now building rapidly for the remainder of Aston Villa’s season, where they are in the hunt for UEFA Champions League qualification and the UEFA Europa Conference League title under the stewardship of Head Coach Unai Emery.

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