As well as netting four goals in his last eight Premier League appearances, the summer signing from Lorient has also earned rave reviews for his tireless and unselfish running off the ball.
While Aston Villa striker Jordan Ayew has been earning plenty of plaudits for his wonder goal in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Newcastle United, manager Remi Garde believes the Ghana international deserves just as much credit for exceptional work rate.
Ayew, 24, originally joined Villa from French side Lorient in July for around £8.5 million after bagging a career-high 12 goals in 31 Ligue 1 games last season, but a slow start to life in England saw him fail to score in his first seven appearances for the club.
However, the former Marseille man now seems to be finding his feet with the claret and blues, and after netting four times in his past eight Premier League games, has established himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet.
His finishing ability was on full display against Newcastle on Saturday when he smashed a stunning second-half equaliser into the top corner from just inside the box, but Garde was just as impressed with his tireless running and endeavour at St James' Park.
Asked about his star man’s recent performances at his pre-match press conference ahead of hosting West Ham United on Boxing Day, the former Lyon boss told reporters: “I know Jordan is gifted – he’s spectacular. He already scored four goals in a team where it’s difficult to create a lot of chances.
“He scored a brilliant goal [at Newcastle], but from my point of view, I prefer to highlight the hard work he has done for the team every game. For me, it’s very important because you cannot say, ‘I’m only a striker’.
“When you see players like Jamie Vardy or Riyad Mahrez, they are also working very hard for the team and are rewarded in the game by scoring goals.”
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Ayew has certainly been Villa’s standout player since Garde replaced Tim Sherwood at the helm in early November, but his efforts have still not been enough to lift the club off the bottom of the table.
The Midlands outfit are currently 10 points from safety after taking only seven points from 17 games, and while performances have improved over the Frenchman’s first six matches in charge, they are still chasing their first top-flight win since beating Bournemouth 1-0 on the opening day.
The majority now have them pegged as certainties to be relegated and Garde believes that they will need 10 victories from their remaining 21 fixtures to stand a chance of avoiding the drop – something they have not even managed in their last 52 Premier League games.
“I think we need at least 10 victories," he added at his press conference. "With 36 points you can be safe. Sometimes you go down, sometimes with more points you can go down. Step by step we need to concentrate on the first win, then the second. We need to start very quickly that is for sure.
"We have seen the Norwich and Bournemouth victories against teams you never would have expected. You never know, maybe this is a year when you can win or lose against any team."