Dean Smith praises progress of ‘outstanding’ Ollie Watkins after win at Everton

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Carl Markham, PA
·2-min read
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Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith is delighted with the progress striker Ollie Watkins has made this season and felt his performance in the 2-1 victory at Everton was one of his best.

The newly-capped England international’s 15th club goal of the season was cancelled out by Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s 20th of the campaign in the first half.

But Anwar El Ghazi scored for the second successive match with a brilliant curling effort 10 minutes from time as Villa won at Goodison Park for the first time since 2008.

Anwar El Ghazi celebrates his winner
Anwar El Ghazi celebrates his winner (Michael Regan/PA)

“I thought he was good tonight and difficult to handle. It’s what we paid a lot of money for,” Smith said of the decision to sign Watkins from Brentford in the summer for £28million.

“I knew what he was and what he was like as a person and how he wanted to grow and get better. I thought he was outstanding tonight.

“He pick-pocketed the defender (Mason Holgate) well to score his goal and I thought Jordan Pickford regained parity with some of the saves against him.

Ollie Watkins, right, celebrates his goal
Ollie Watkins, right, celebrates his goal (Naomi Baker/PA)

“I think his game has got better. I’ve always said he is one of the best pressing centre-forwards in the Premier League, which is huge praise indeed. He is backing that up with goals.

“He is a lad who used to beat himself up a lot if he missed chances but he gets over that a lot quicker now and that’s a sign of a really hungry and top young player.”

Defeat extended eight-placed Everton’s woeful home league run to one win in the last 10 and put a huge dent in their hopes of putting themselves within striking distance of fourth-placed Chelsea with a match in hand.

Gareth Southgate watched on as two England strikers scored
Gareth Southgate watched on as two England strikers scored (Naomi Baker/PA)

Manager Carlo Ancelotti admitted the performance, coming a week after they beat Arsenal at the Emirates, did not warrant any more than they got from the game.

He said: “Not good enough. Completely different from the the last game we played against Arsenal, which had more concentration, more spirit and more attitude.

“The start of the game was really bad: no concentration, a lot of passes wrong, no balance when we attacked.

“We had opportunities but also we conceded a lot and at the end of the day we deserved to lose.”