Aston Villa v West Ham United and Nottingham Forest v Luton Town are the focus of our latest Scout Notes piece.
Any stats you see in this article are taken from our Premium Members Area, where you can find Opta data on each and every Premier League match.
WATKINS ON FIRE
Gameweek 9’s most transferred-in player Ollie Watkins (£8.2m) grabbed a goal and assist on Sunday, as Aston Villa racked up an eleventh consecutive home win in the Premier League.
With just over 15 minutes to play, Watkins smashed a shot into the roof of the net, having earlier turned provider for Douglas Luiz’s (£5.4m) opener.
It means he’s now up to 13 attacking returns (five goals, eight assists) in nine starts this season, with his emphatic finish for Villa’s third a sure sign of a player in the form of his life.
On what’s changed for him under Unai Emery, Watkins said:
“Before I would run into the corner flags and be chasing things but now we have attacking full-backs that do that so I try to stay central. I make more clever runs, I would say. There were times where I was dropping too deep to get touches on the ball whereas now I’m not as bothered about that. I let the other creative players do what they need to do and receive the ball from them. I’m not too worried about touches. It’s working well. Over 20 goals and going to the Euros is what I want to do. That’s my goal and it’s what I’m pushing for. I know my club form has to be good with Villa.” – Ollie Watkins
Watkins’ latest haul means he’s outscored team-mate Moussa Diaby (£6.7m) by a whopping 33 points in the last five Gameweeks.
It’ll be little consolation to his owners, but the Frenchman did create four chances against West Ham and was unlucky not to record an assist, when Watkins received his drilled pass but somehow managed to shoot wide from seven yards out.
LUIZ’S HOME COMFORTS
Douglas Luiz scored for the sixth league game running at Villa Park on Sunday.
The Brazilian put the hosts ahead on the half-hour mark, before doubling his tally with a penalty after the break.
It’s taken him up to sixth in the midfielder standings on 49 points, remarkably just five fewer than Son Heung-min (£9.5m) and Bryan Mbeumo (£6.7m).
A £5.4m midfielder on penalties and some set-pieces, playing for a team as good as Villa right now, certainly isn’t anything to dismiss, although it is worth noting 41 other players in his position have attempted more shots in the box than his seven in 2023/24.
“Every player has an objective. Douglas Luiz to improve, to score goals. For example, today he shoots very well and scores, but he shoots and the goalkeeper saved before. In Wolverhampton, he had two very good chances as well at the edge of the box and he didn’t score. We spoke about it. We said ‘Douglas we need more, because you are getting there and you have to connect better’. He did it today and that’s the improvement I am proud of. When he scored two goals I was feeling a little bit that he relaxed, he lost two balls on the pitch and I was very demanding with him.” – Unai Emery on Douglas Luiz
Elsewhere, Matty Cash (£5.1m) played well but failed to register a single shot or key pass.
Looking ahead, Villa will now look to capitalise on a favourable run of fixtures. From Gameweeks 10 to 14, they sit fourth on the Season Ticker, with two of their next three fixtures at home against Luton Town and Fulham (see below).
That’s important given their Villa Park form, which has seen them score at least three goals in each of their opening four home league matches in 2023/24.
BOWEN SCORES ON THE ROAD AGAIN
It required a big deflection, but Jarrod Bowen (£7.3m) scored his sixth league goal of the season on Sunday, equalling his tally from the whole of 2022/23.
Five in a row have been netted on the road and he was West Ham’s biggest threat at Villa Park, with his three shots a team-leading total.
As a result, it’s no surprise his ownership is now approaching 20% ahead of West Ham’s favourable run of fixtures, which sees them top the ticker from Gameweeks 10 to 17.
As for James Ward-Prowse (£6.3m), he was quieter but did move into a more advanced midfield role for 20ish minutes in the second half, having started in the pivot alongside Edson Alvarez (£5.0m).
Elsewhere, there are a few concerns at the back for the Hammers.
They have now conceded 164 shots this season, the third-most in the league. They also have the third-highest xGC on 18.58 and will be without Emerson Palmieri (£4.5m) in Gameweek 10, having received his fifth yellow card of the season on Sunday.
£4.9M WOOD NETS BRACE
Nottingham Forest drew 2-2 with Luton Town at the City Ground on Saturday, with the hosts squandering a two-goal lead given to them by budget forward Chris Wood (£4.9m).
Steve Cooper’s side had dominated the match and Matt Turner (£4.1m) owners seemed to be on course for a clean sheet, until a poorly-defended set-piece in the 83rd minute allowed the Hatters to pull a goal back through Chiedozie Ogbene (£4.9m).
Elijah Adebayo (£4.8m) then snatched a point in stoppage time, his second goal in three matches.
As for Wood, he was twice assisted by Anthony Elanga (£5.0m) and could easily have had a hat-trick, only for the flag to be raised for offside late on.
He racked up seven shots inside the box, more than any other player in Gameweek 9 so far, including three ‘big chances’, although it is worth noting Taiwo Awoniyi (£6.5m) is only expected to be out for a week or two.
Elsewhere, Morgan Gibbs-White (£5.8m) played his part in Wood’s second goal but needed a bit more composure in the final-third, while Murillo’s (£4.5m) passing once again caught the eye, although it wasn’t quite the standout showing of Crystal Palace in Gameweek 8.
Reflecting on the draw, a downbeat Steve Cooper said:
“You can try to pick the bones out of things in detail, but the reality is we’ve given a poor free-kick away, we haven’t defended a poor delivery and the momentum changes. It’s on moments in the game. It’s not one reflective of general play, it’s one reflective of one moment we didn’t defend very well. It feels like a loss. Two points dropped, for sure.” – Steve Cooper
LUTON SHOWING FIGHT
Aston Villa’s next opponents, Luton Town, were – as expected – very direct at the City Ground, with their approach aiming to get the ball wide and put lots of crosses into the box.
Substitute and debutant Andros Townsend (£5.0m) sent in the free-kick to earn the assist for Ogbene’s goal, while Tom Lockyer (£4.3m) created the second.
Meanwhile, Ross Barkley (£4.9m) also impressed from the bench and will be pushing for a start against his former club in Gameweek 10.
Overall, Luton have collected just five points from their opening nine games, but they are at least showing a bit of fight and the underlying numbers aren’t terrible (see below).
Yes, Forest had 19 shots and created 2.85 xG but Luton do at least seem to have a bit more robustness about them than fellow newcomers Burnley and Sheffield United.
|Total (Rank v other PL clubs)|
|Shots conceded||142 (15th)|