Why Ollie Watkins Shouted at Douglas Luiz as Gerrard Praises Star with ‘Big Future’

 Why Ollie Watkins Shouted at Douglas Luiz as Gerrard Praises Star with ‘Big Future’

Steven Gerrard praised his side’s organization and defensive shift at Leicester as a point that halted the rot for Aston Villa.

At the King Power Stadium, Villa had the best of the chances, with Leon Bailey, Ollie Watkins, and Tyrone Mings all missing good chances.

The goalless draw was Villa’s first of the campaign, as well as their first on the road this season. With Norwich on the horizon at Villa Park in six days, Ashley Preece delivers you his thoughts from yesterday afternoon.

GERRARD CRAVES MORE

A pertinent point Gerrard made was how he wants more points on the road, and referenced Villa’s narrow setbacks to Brentford and Newcastle back in January and February.

“I crave more of these,” Gerrard said of Villa’s 0-0 draw, “if you can’t win, in this league, it’s important you take something away because these points improve your league position come the end of (the season).

“If I look at Newcastle away, Brentford away, if I look at other situations, we could have been four or five points better off by defending like we did today and that’s a positive and a base for us to go into the Norwich game.

“The Norwich game will be different. The onus will be on us to go and create and open the door, I’m sure it will. It’s critical we go into that with the right mentality and attitude because those three points are vitally important.”

He added: “Off the back of four defeats, this was a really tough game for us. You’re not given anything here, you’ve got to earn it.”

WATKINS LEADING FROM THE FRONT

Ollie Watkins appeared much more frightening at the King Power, as the Match of the Day lads underlined. Gerrard himself described the striker as “unplayable” at times as England’s captain continued to outscore Leicester’s £30 million man Wesley Fofana.

Watkins, 26, won 15 of his 30 duels against Leicester’s defense four and had six touches in the opponent’s penalty area, more than any player on the pitch. Leicester’s players had just seven touches in Villa’s 18-yard box, while Gerrard’s men had a whopping 23, underlining Villa’s threat at times.

As for Watkins, he appeared more like his usual self and dished out the odd rollicking to those slipping below the required standards. The striker had a dig at Douglas Luiz for attempting too cute a ball over the top for Leon Bailey, telling the Brazilian to keep it ticking instead. Watkins also said the same thing to Bailey, wanting his teammates to build up patiently prior to an attack on Kasper Schmeichel’s goal as Villa were guilty of gifting possession back to the hosts. Watkins was bang at it at the KP – but should have put his big chance away into one of the corners.

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YOUNG WORTHY OF NEW DEAL

Another player who led by example on Saturday was Ashley Young. The 36-year-old made his 200th start for Villa, while it was his 22nd Premier League appearance of the current campaign. Young enjoyed the most touches of the football (61) and was in the thick of it, clearing brilliantly to stop James Justin from scoring while really getting at those in blue shirts. Young is exactly the player you want when the going gets tough. He’s a little lieutenant who sets the standards, whether that be in training or on a match day. For me, he’s fully worthy of a new 12-month contract, which is something Gerrard wants to happen as well.

TIM’S GOT A TERRIFIC FUTURE

To probably the standout moment from Gerrard’s post-match presser now and that was his praise for Tim Iroegbunam. The 18-year-old made his second Premier League appearance and was the first man off the bench to replace Douglas Luiz with a little over 15 minutes to go.

Gerrard, 41, was discussing how Marvelous Nakamba “still has a bit to go” in terms of being ready for a start following his four-month lay-off and, unprompted, the boss lauded teen midfielder Iroegbunam.

Gerrard said: “Tim Iroegbunam, I spoke about before, he was the most ready to come in and help us. Dougie was on a yellow card and I didn’t want to go to 10 men because it was important to stop the losing run. It was important we kept a clean sheet and I thought Tim was terrific today. He played with calmness and maturity. He’s going to be looking at me all week for more game time now!”

Asked what he’s been feeding Iroegbunam at Bodymoor Heath given his sheer size, the boss smiled: “He’s a top professional. He’s in the gym before training, after training.

“He needs to come out of his shell. He needs to find his voice because now he’s in men’s football and we think the world of him. He’s got a big future here. But it’s my job to manage his game time, to prepare him for a big career.

“The academy have done a superb job on Tim and he’s got a lot of attributes that will help Aston Villa moving forward.”

Iroegbunam, signed from West Brom last summer, played 90 minutes for Villa against Brentford B on Good Friday and, once again, impressed Gerrard and his teammates. “We believe Tim’s ready,” Gerrard outlined. “It’s only a matter of time before he becomes a regular in this team.”

In his 22-minute cameo yesterday, Iroegbunam won all four of his duels and made six ball recoveries. Supporters can expect to see a lot more of the kid, that’s for sure. He’s some size, by the way, and such a neat footballer who continues to soak up the knowledge passed on by previous midfield greats Gerrard and Gary McAllister.

TOP HALF STILL THE AIM

And lastly, Villa have four of their remaining six matches at home. Yesterday was vital to stop the losing run and, with Norwich next, it’s a chance to really kick-start some momentum as the season draws to a conclusion. Villa, though, remain locked in 15th position, five points off where they want to be in 10th, a target Gerrard set his players at the beginning of January. Let’s see how those in claret and blue finish now, while it’s imperative not to just stumble over the finishing line.

Gerrard stressed: “The target is to try and win as many games as we can, try and get as many points on the board as we can and try to finish in a position from which we can build. Then we can look for the right players to try and have a strong pre-season.”

Source: Birmingham Mail