By Ben Wild

17th Feb, 2023 | 2:20pm

View: Ollie Watkins could go to next level at Aston Villa thanks to Unai Emery

Ollie Watkins’ sparking form for Aston Villa should come as no surprise to anyone who regularly watches the Villans.

The striker’s hit-and-miss, or downright poor, form has been a bone of contention for Villa fans for quite some time.

Following his move from Brentford in the summer of 2020, there were big expectations on the shoulders of the Englishman.

He arrived at Villa Park on the back of a Championship season in which he scored 25 goals in 46 games at a time when Villa were crying out for a proper striker.

14 Premier League goals in 37 games followed, not bad. This was followed up by just 11 the following season.

The 2022-23 season got off to a slow start as Watkins only scored in the league once under the management of Steven Gerrard this season, despite starting all but one of the games he took charge of.

Watkins now has six league goals to his game with four of them coming under new boss Unai Emery, the other came during the period in which the former Villarreal man had not been appointed.

It is clear that Emery has given Watkins a new lease on life. He is now playing the way we all remembered him doing at Brentford.

Take a look at his goal against Man City.

Watkins finds the pace excellently and takes Douglas Luiz’s pass in his stride.

From here there is still a lot to do with three City defenders bearing down on him.

But the composure he shows to hold off both players and calmly slot past one of the best keepers the Premier League has ever seen, that’s much more like it.

We simply weren’t seeing this earlier in the season. Look at his other recent goals, the same fingerprints are all over them.

Confidence. Strength. Fight. All attributes we weren’t seeing from a man who looked like his Villa days might be over earlier this season.

With Emery and his coaching team at the helm, there is no reason to think Watkins won’t get even better too.

In other Aston Villa news, the club face competition from Barcelona to secure the signing of a striker at the end of the season.