Aston Villa boss shares emphatic Watkins behind-the-scenes verdict
Aston Villa manager Unai Emery has waxed lyrical about Ollie Watkins, in conversation with the club’s media team.
The Villans boss even admitted he and the coaches sometimes have to tell the striker to go easy in training.
Villa have been preparing for Saturday’s Premier League meeting with Crystal Palace at Villa Park.
The claret-and-blue side go into the game on the back of a 2-0 win at Everton last time out.
At the same time, Villa’s recent home form hasn’t been great as they look to avoid a third consecutive defeat at B6.
The Villans currently sit 11th and will take on an Eagles outfit one place and four points below them in the table.
Watkins will once again be key for Villa, the 25-year-old currently in fine form.
He has scored in five consecutive Premier League games and has eight league goals and assists for the season so far.
‘Improving in everything’
Emery, speaking at his pre-match press conference, revealed just how hard Watkins works in training.
“He’s very competitive,” said the Spaniard.
“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.”
Reaping the benefits
Credit to Watkins for putting so much hard work in to turn his form around over the past few months.
Credit also to Emery and his team for getting the best out of the £75,000-a-week (Spotrac) Villa striker.
Now, both parties are reaping the benefits.
The Villans are heading in the right direction and a top-half finish is now a very realistic ambition.
Indeed, Villa could potentially even push for a European finish if things go their way.