Forget Watkins: Villa dynamo who made just 8 passes is Dean Smith’s only silver lining – opinion

Just how do you explain a series of results that has seen Aston Villa go from thumping Premier League champions Liverpool 7-2, to losing back-to-back games against Leeds and Southampton, conceding at least three in each?

Dean Smith’s side produced a woeful first-half performance on Sunday afternoon against the Saints, and the visitors caught them cold in spectacular fashion.

First, Jannik Verstergaard put Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men in front, before a pair of James Ward-Prowse specials saw them go 3-0 up at the break. After Danny Ings seemed to have put the gloss on Southampton’s win, Villa scored three in the final half-hour to claw back some pride.

But when Smith looks back at the video on Monday morning to assess how things fell apart, he certainly won’t have too much to praise about his team. Apart from Trezeguet.

The Egypt international, who was benched in favour of summer signing Bertrand Traore, came on mid-way through the opening period, and provided the injection of work-rate and fearlessness that Villa desperately needed.

Whilst he didn’t pick up a goal or an assist, the winger was his side’s most dangerous player over the course of the game. As per Sofascore, he fired off four total shots on goal, with three of them drawing saves from Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

He also attempted five dribbles and sent in two crosses over the course of the game, although the one area that may concern him is the fact that his teammates didn’t look to give him more of the ball.

He had just 30 touches in total after coming on, and made only eight passes. Trezeguet was the one real spark for Villa – excluding the final few minutes when they really turned up the heat – and Smith will have been left suitably impressed by the way his substitute came on with the right attitude.

He’s now got a major call to make as to whether he brings him back in from the start next week against Arsenal.

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