Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

When Aston Villa were scouring the market for a striker in the summer, the Midland giants appeared to narrow their selection to a pair of quicksilver Championship forwards who had been transformed from quicksilver widemen into ruthless penalty-box poachers.

And, by the time the window slammed shut in mid-October, Karlan Grant and Ollie Watkins were both getting used to life in the Midlands.

Villa paid a club-record £28 million to sign Watkins from Brentford while Grant ended up at West Brom, joining from Huddersfield Town for a cool £15 million. 

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But while the former has made the step up look simple, scoring twice against Arsenal and three times against Liverpool, the latter is finding life in the Premier League a bit tougher.

West London Sport reported Aston Villa were keen on Grant before he made a move to the club sitting 15 miles to the west.

Since then, the former Huddersfield talisman has found the net just once in eight games and was hauled off 45 minutes into Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Newcastle United.

“It’s tough for him,” Slaven Bilic said after another frustrating defeat, one that leaves the Baggies in the relegation zone and his job apparently hanging by a thread.

“I can’t say I was happy with (Grant) because I wouldn’t take him off.”

Photo by ANDREW COULDRIDGE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Of course, there are mitigating circumstances at play here. 

Grant can only dream of the sort of service Watkins receives at Villa Park, with Jack Grealish, Ross Barkley, Matty Cash and Matty Targett serving up chances on a silver platter.

In 45 minutes at Newcastle, he had just one shot on goal – and that was an audacious, 30-yard free-kick rather than a genuine opportunity carved out from open play.

But Grant also failed to provide a presence in attack, seemingly lacking the strength, mobility or hold-up play that has made Watkins such an integral part of Dean Smith’s system.  

Overall, when it comes to strikers the numbers are key. And, with Watkins outscoring Grant 8-1, few at Villa Park will doubt the club’s board made the right decision.

Photo by Visionhaus

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