Ollie Watkins grabbed a goal and two assists as Aston Villa thrashed lowly Sheffield United 5-0 at Bramall Lane on Saturday to climb to fourth in the Premier League standings.
Unai Emery’s Villa, who won for only the second time in six league games, are level on 46 points with third-placed Arsenal, although the north Londoners have a game in hand. Second-placed Manchester City also have 46 points, but have two games in hand.
Bottom side Sheffield — whose 59 goals conceded are the most by a Premier League team at this point of the season — have 10 points, and are 10 points below the safety zone.
John McGinn opened the floodgates for Villa in the 12th minute when Watkins’ shot came off the post and the Scot was there for a simple tap-in. There was more misery to come with Watkins, Leon Bailey and Youri Tielemans scoring to give Villa a commanding 4-0 lead at halftime.
Hundreds of United fans had already left by the time Alex Moreno took advantage of some careless defending less than two minutes after the restart when Watkins lifted a cross into the box and the unmarked Spaniard smashed in a volley.
Watkins is the first Premier League player to achieve double digits in goals, with 11, and assists (10) this season.
Vinicius Souza finally gave the home crowd something to cheer about deep in stoppage time, but his goal was disallowed for offside after a VAR check.
While Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez spent much of the game wandering around his box, he was pressed into action when he made a terrific double save late in the game.
United manager Chris Wilder said he and his team “have to apologise to our supporters”.