Danny Ings’ header against Newcastle in Aston Villa’s first win of the season was already enough to repay the £ 30million price Southampton had demanded of him. He recorded two goals and an assist in his first four games, with limited involvement.
Villa fans have yet to see what Ings can really offer in this squad and the prospect should excite everyone associated with the club. His performances in a Villa jersey haven’t been bad, but it’s the fact that we know he is capable of so much more that is so promising.
As stats expert Josh Williams (@DistanceCovered) points out here: “Danny Ings is a lot more prone to getting involved in moves, more prone to drop into number ten type spaces, tie up the game. does this naturally and as part of a two-person duo, he is usually the player to give up, and with whom he plays, he will then expand the game.
It will be music to some ears of Villa fans who have been debating how Dean Smith can fit Ings and Ollie Watkins into the same team.
45% of Villa’s wins last season were in a 4-2-3-1 formation and Ings’ natural ability to sink deeper into the ‘number ten’ type role will be immensely helpful here. He would be able to play the role of that attacking midfielder in this system while taking on Ollie Watkins.
Southampton played a 4-4-2 90 percent of the time last season and Ings are used to having a presence at the top with him in order to work in tandem with him. Although he has already enjoyed success during his time at Villa this season, playing alone has had an impact on his statistical output.
He averages 21 touches per game for Villa, which is a dramatic decrease from his numbers at Southampton. In his 2019/20 season in which he scored 24 goals, he averaged 35 touches per game. He doesn’t get as involved with the ball at Villa as he was at Southampton and that may be limiting his contributions.
The possession levels of the two teams are similar so this is also not a case of Southampton having more ball. Villa averaged 50% this season and Southampton averaged 49% in 2019/20. He’s just struggled to get so involved so far this season.
Dean Smith should prioritize increasing the use of Ings because when on the ball he can not only threaten teams with his ability to score goals but also his ability to create for his teammates. He averages only one shot of action per game for Villa, but in 2019/20 he averaged nearly three.
Increasing his role within this team would lead him not only to score more goals, but also to those around him. This was evident in the game against Chelsea, Villa had their most creative game registering a record 21 shots creation actions. Ings didn’t have his best game here, but the system he operated with Watkins allowed his counterpart to thrive.
Ings’ flexibility in how he plays must be utilized, and as previously mentioned, he cannot be used as a mere poacher in the box when he could contribute so massively to the Villa building game.
In order for fans to see his true abilities throughout his time at Villa Park, however, he will have to play alongside Watkins.
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