Express & Star

Matt Maher analysis: Aston Villa duo show they are indispensable as biggest week of season kicks off

The biggest week of Villa’s season so far began with another reminder of the two players they cannot do without.

Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins celebrates scoring their side's second goal

After Emi Martinez had kept Unai Emery’s team in the hunt at Bournemouth with a series of stunning saves, Ollie Watkins salvaged a point and a 2-2 draw with a superb header to ensure they head into those mouthwatering visits of Manchester City and Arsenal with a sense of momentum intact.

While Villa’s current fourth-placed position in the Premier League has undoubtedly been achieved through collective effort, Martinez and Watkins are the two players for whom they have no suitable replacements and upon whom so much rests. For the second Sunday running, they delivered performances which emphasised that importance.

Though it was Watkins who snatched the headlines with the deft 90th minute header, just as he had by netting the winner at Tottenham a week previously, Martinez was responsible him still being in a position to be the hero after thwarting the Cherries with at least three stops in the top class category.

The first, with the match level at 1-1, saw him tip over an Antoine Semenyo drive with his fingertips, before he then denied Dominic Solanke at point-blank range. After Solanke had then beaten him to put the hosts 2-1 ahead, Martinez made sure the damage did not get worse by making another one-on-one save.