Should Ollie Watkins be the Premier League Player of the Season?


Emiliano Martinez made a statement worth magnifying on Sunday after Ollie Watkins scored again and Aston Villa beat Arsenal 2-0 to strengthen its top-four case while hurting the Gunners’ bid to win the Premier League.

“I think Ollie should win player of the season,” Martinez said. “When you play for a ‘Big Six’ side, you get more credit but Ollie has scored 19 goals with the chances he’s got. He should be a contender.”

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There’s no question that Watkins is a contender, Emi, but it’s becoming difficult to say the 28-year-old English forward shouldn’t be the first domestic player to lay claim to the Premier League’s top individual honor since Jamie Vardy in Leicester’s stunning 2015-16 title capture.

Villa surpassed its 2022-23 points haul of 61 with Sunday’s win, and did it despite contending with ongoing European schedule congestion. The Villans are 90 minutes from the Conference League semifinal stage, and look capable if not probable to qualify for the UEFA Champions League.

Unai Emery’s men have 63 points and are three points clear of fifth-place Spurs, who have played one fewer games. And fifth place may be enough for the UCL, with no team below fifth looking a real threat to make up their double-digit gap with about 5-6 matches left for the field.

But about Watkins… well… wow.

Should Ollie Watkins be Premier League Player of the Season?

Watkins is three clear of Mohamed Salah for the most goal contributions of anyone in the Premier League this season, his 19 goals trailing Erling Haaland for the Golden Boot and his 10 assists tied with Pascal Gross and Kieran Trippier in a wide-open race for Playmaker of the Season.

Those 29 contributions come from Villa’s 68 goals this Premier League season. And while traditional producers Haaland, Salah, and Kevin De Bruyne have missed significant time to open up Watkins chance to lead the league in goals and/or assists, Watkins equally deserves to be lauded for his durability.

Before we go further, here’s what Watkins said regarding Martinez’s comments

“It’s nice that he’s saying that,” Watkins said. “I’m just trying to let my football do the talking. … I felt like I played well today, I grew into the game second half. Even if I’d come off without a goal, I’d have been happy with my performance but the little dink was nice.”

Watkins has only missed one PL game — a 4-1 loss to Man City perhaps underscoring his import considering he went 90 in the 1-0 win over City late in 2023 — and he’s gone 73 minutes or more in 31 of his 32 appearances. Ninety minutes? Try 28 times. For a center forward, that’s quite a lot even before contemplating his tournament games. But this award is about the Premier League.

He’s doing all this with efficiency, massively out-producing an xG+xA/90 figure that is just 18th in the Premier League. Shots per 90 minutes? He’s 26th.

Should he win the honor? He’s one of the favorites, and could benefit from division of votes amongst the other big teams. Rodri, Phil Foden, and Erling Haaland have been fantastic for Man City, Declan Rice and Bukayo Saka join Martin Odegaard as outstanding on Arsenal. In terms of clear MVPs from one team, he’s probably edging Heung-min Son and Salah amongst top teams and Cole Palmer and Bruno Fernandes from those off that perch.

There are cases to be made for others but the cases just aren’t as strong as the one for Watkins. With the title undecided and the very real chance that votes will be cast before the title is cast, this could be the year for Watkins.



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