Aston Villa team news: Questionable Dean Smith decision caused by £58m duo

Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith

Dean Smith's insistence on wanting to deploy Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins in their preferred striker role has been the key reason for Aston Villa's change of shape this season, according to Express & Star journalist Luke Hatfield.

Having opted to set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation for large spells of last term, Smith has altered his stance and used a 5-3-2 or 3-5-2 system in every Premier League match for more than a month.

What's the latest news on Ings and Watkins?

Ings joined the club in a deal worth £25million from Southampton during the summer transfer window.

After clinching the 29-year-old's services, head coach Smith described Ings as an "outstanding" striker.

Having scored 46 goals in 100 Southampton appearances, Ings has already shown his goalscoring capabilities for his new employers by finding the back of the net three times over the course of his first nine outings.

Fellow frontman Watkins arrived at Villa Park 13 months ago for a then-club record fee which could rise to £33million.

The 25-year-old enjoyed an impressive first season in the Premier League and racked up 16 Villa goals across all competitions.

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However, he has found goals harder to come by since forming a strike partnership with Ings, finding the back of the net just once in seven appearances.

What has Luke Hatfield said about the situation?

Hatfield admits the partnership involving Ings and Watkins has not paid off in the way Smith would have hoped.

The journalist reckons Ings' arrival, which came less than three months ago, is the key reason behind the Villa head coach altering his team's shape.

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Hatfield believes Smith is desperate for the duo to start alongside each other.

He told GIVEMESPORT: "You've got two strikers up there who haven't really clicked.

"The whole reason for the formation change, you think anyway, is to get those two strikers on the park."

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Has the change in formation worked?

Since altering to a two-man strike-force for the first time at Chelsea last month, Villa have suffered four defeats from six Premier League fixtures.

They also head into the weekend sitting 13th in the table ahead of West Ham United's visit to Villa Park on Sunday, so the alteration is failing to garner an improvement in results.

Opting to use Ings and Watkins as strikers has led to Smith choosing to deploy wing-backs instead of wingers, which has resulted in £25million signing Leon Bailey still waiting for his first Villa start.

Fellow winger Bertrand Traore has also suffered from the change and gone from being a key man, having made 38 appearances last season, to just 53 minutes of top flight action this term.

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