Ollie Watkins
BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 15: Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Burton Albion v Aston Villa at Pirelli Stadium on September 15, 2020 in Burton-upon-Trent, England. (Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

It was a miserable day in London last year as Luton were humiliated by Brentford. A 7-0 defeat with a single shot on goal flattered us as Brentford ran us ragged. Josh Da Silva got many of the plaudits with a hat-trick but as I watched the game it was clear one player stood head and shoulders above the rest. Ollie Watkins.

I had heard a lot about Watkins who rose through the English football pyramid, having started at Exeter City. It was my first time spending a whole ninety minutes watching him though and it became abundantly clear all the talk was well warranted. I left that day thinking it was a matter of time before I was hearing Ollie Watkins’ name in the Premier League.

Brentford missed out on promotion in the play-off final, losing to Fulham 2-1 after extra time. However, Watkins was named Championship Player of the Season after scoring 26 goals. While Brentford wasn’t going to be bringing their Moneyball style football to the Premier League surely Watkins would be taking his talents elsewhere.

It might not have been South Beach like Lebron James but the decision was just as important for the 24-year-old striker. Ultimately he went to Aston Villa for a fee of £33 million. While Villa had struggled the season before and only survived on the last day Watkins knew manager Dean Smith from his days at Brentford and more importantly trusted him.

Eight goals in ten games in all competitions have seen that trust repaid pretty quickly. Included in that was a perfect hat-trick as Aston Villa embarrassed Champions Liverpool 7-2, scoring with his left foot, right foot, and head. Over the weekend he continued his dismantling of the so-called bigger teams with two goals as Villa ran out 3-0 winners over Arsenal at the Emirates.

With his recent form and the behavior of some stars during the last England trip surely it’s only a matter of time until Watkins joins his Villa Park teammate Jack Grealish at the International level. He is showing that so far the Premier League has not been too much of a step up. He’s also making that 7-0 defeat a little easier to take. After all, he helped Villa score seven against the Premier League Champions too.

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