Unai Emery praised Ollie Watkins’ all-round game after the striker set up two of Aston Villa’s goals in Sunday’s 3-1 home victory over Bournemouth, another superb achievement for the former Exeter City and Weston-super-Mare forward.

Watkins provided the assists for second-half finishes from Moussa Diaby and Leon Bailey in a turnaround that had begun with Morgan Rogers cancelling out Dominic Solanke’s penalty.

As well as being – with 19 – only one goal behind joint-leaders Erling Haaland and Cole Palmer in the race for the Premier League Golden Boot, Watkins is also now the division’s outright leading assist-maker this season with 12.

And Villa boss Emery said of the 28-year-old England international: “He played fantastic.

“Always his first objective is to win as a team, to help in everything we need tactically and then of course, when he scores it is fantastic for him, for the team. But even when he doesn’t score, he plays, helping the team being brilliant.

“I think he’s adding more things tactically himself to feel comfortable playing, scoring goals, assisting and even without those circumstances, playing for the team, playing in the structure we have tactically.

“His commitment to do the work we always need has been fantastic, more than scoring goals, more than assists.

“He’s increasing his level and showing us – being very demanding in himself – how he can increase the level in a lot of things, more than scoring goals.

“I appreciate him and his progress, I think other coaches and in the national team, they are of course aware about him, how he’s increasing and how he’s been important.

“I think he deserves it because he’s a really hard worker every day. Always he wants to work more in the training session.”

There were also positive words for Watkins from Emery’s Bournemouth counterpart and fellow Spaniard Andoni Iraola.

The Cherries manager said: “He is an amazing player. It’s a little bit like Dom (Solanke, who has 18 league goals this season) with us. He scores a lot of goals and he gives them a lot.

“He attacks the spaces, he is very good at pressing. He created a lot (on Sunday). He didn’t score, but probably he deserved to because he was really good.

“He has been amazing all season – not only looking at the numbers. It’s about what he gives the team. He’s very, very complete.”

Fourth-placed Villa again boosted their bid for Champions League football, seven days after winning 2-0 at Arsenal and three on from the penalty shootout triumph at Lille that took them into the Europa Conference League semi-finals.

With four league fixtures left, they are now six points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, who have two games in hand, and Villa can make the gap nine points when they host Chelsea on Saturday, a day before Spurs play their next match, at home against derby rivals Arsenal.