Express & Star

Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins backed to hit goal trail in Premier League

Unai Emery is confident the goals will come for Ollie Watkins as the Villa striker waits to open his Premier League account.


Watkins is yet to score in the top flight this season and endured a frustrating afternoon in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Crystal Palace, seeing one effort saved by goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and another hit the post.

But Emery is unfazed, pointing out the 27-year-old netted a hat-trick in last month’s 5-0 Europa Conference League play-off round win at Hibernian.

The boss believes Watkins, Villa’s top scorer in each of the last three seasons, won’t let any current misfortune get the better of him.

Emery explained: “He’s strong in his mind, his mentality is amazing on the training ground, every day going there to learn and practice. He didn’t score in the Premier League, but scored three in Hibernian.

“He had the same opportunities, three very good opportunities which the goalkeeper saved at Burnley. He had two very good chances, but the goalkeeper saved.

“He works every day and I like him. He will score goals because his nature as a striker is to score. We are going to help him and I am very happy with him.”

Watkins enjoyed an excellent second half to last season following Emery’s arrival and while he has not yet got on the scoresheet in the league this term, he has been productive in other ways and was the player fouled for both penalties converted by Douglas Luiz in home wins over Everton and Palace.

Luiz has now replaced him on penalty duties and currently has a perfect record from the spot, having also been on the mark at Hibernian.

“We decided for Douglas Luiz to practice penalty kicks,” explained Emery. “When there are matches like today with a penalty, he is feeling good and confident. We have other players as well who can take them.”