By Anthony Onifade

4th Sep, 2023 | 2:40pm

Aston Villa: Unai Emery may already have Cameron Archer transfer regret as Ollie Watkins struggles continue

Aston Villa star Ollie Watkins’ Premier League form is now becoming a major cause for concern at Villa Park and Unai Emery may already be regretting his decision to sanction Cameron Archer’s departure.

Aston Villa suffered another disappointing away-day defeat new Premier League campaign as they were outclassed in a 3-0 loss at the hands of Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday (3 September).

The Reds enjoyed a blistering start, with early first-half goals courtesy of Dominik Szoboszlai and Matty Cash finding his own net.

Star winger Mohamed Salah then added a third in the second half to secure a very straightforward win for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Villa, who have been scoring for fun since losing 5-1 to Newcastle in their opening game of the season, were far too open at the back as they struggled to deal with Liverpool’s forwards.

After winning their last four games in all competitions, Villa will look to put this performance and result down to a bad day at the office, and Emery will now have grave concerns over his star striker Watkins who once again flattered to deceive when Villa needed him most.

In his 73 minutes on the pitch at Anfield, Watkins failed to hit the target with his two shots, recorded just 20 touches, completed just seven of his nine passes, won one of his four total duels, lost possession six times and recorded just one key pass (SofaScore) in another anonymous Premier League display.

More crucially, right now, Watkins is enduring one of his goal-shy spells again. It’s now just one Premier League goal in his last ten games after the Liverpool defeat, that goal coming against Brighton on the last day of the 22/23 campaign [SofaScore].

He also underwent a similar tough spell last season where he went five games without scoring last season after his stunning purple patch which saw him score 11 goals from 12 Premier League games, but this latest run once again lays bare the depleted options Emery has at his disposal as backup.

Jhon Duran is certainly a player worthy of backing but the expectations placed on him to provide the goals when Watkins currently can’t is way too harsh and too soon for a player who only joined the club in January.

And Emery may now be feeling his decision on the departed Villa Park talent Archer, who left to join Sheffield United in a £18m deal and enjoyed a sensational start to his career at Bramall Lane with a terrific goalscoring performance against Everton, is one of huge regret.

Archer’s performance against Everton on Saturday certainly highlighted a player ready to make his mark in the Premier League, one which Aston Villa could have been boosted by as Watkins endures a torrid run.

£18m certainly represents decent business, especially on the financial front with Archer being a homegrown commodity, but his talents and burgeoning potential meant his exit will have left a sour taste in the mouths of the Aston Villa support.

Archer, who has already enjoyed previous spells in the Championship was ready-made for the next level, he was supposed to be Watkins’ heir and while that possibility still remains with Villa placing a buy-back clause in his contract in Sheffield, it was supposed to be this campaign where he proved he can prove his worth to the whole club especially when Watkins experiences a bad patch.

Watkins will have needed the kick up the backside too.

Healthy competition from Archer will have spurred the England international to push himself to score goals again but he doesn’t hold that luxury right now, and it is Aston Villa and Emery’s grave loss.

In other Aston Villa news, another visiting player in particular struggled against Liverpool at the weekend.