Anwar El Ghazi returned to scoring form in Aston Villa’s 1-0 win over Leeds United and Dean Smith revealed that the 25-year-old “needs confidence” to be at his best.

The Claret and Blues face Sheffield United on Wednesday evening and Smith believes El Ghazi could become “one hell of a player” for Villa if he can build on his Leeds performance.

He said in Tuesday’s pre-match press conference: “He had a fruitful December. He’s just come into the team and he needs confidence. When he’s confident, he looks like one hell of a player.

“He came on as a sub against Wolves and took the last-minute penalty, scored and went on a goalscoring spree after that. Hopefully he can take confidence from his performance, first and foremost, against Leeds, scoring a winning goal and continue that into March now.”

El Ghazi has enjoyed a run in the side while Jack Grealish is out with a leg injury, scoring one goal in his last two games and looking a real threat every time he’s on the ball. But he can’t rest on his laurels.

The Netherlands international scored five goals in five Premier League games for Villa in December but has virtually fired blanks before and after (Transfermarkt).

El Ghazi isn’t afraid to take a shot or run at his opposition, but his finishing was been wayward for the longest time and he wasn’t beating players in one-on-ones. That led to Smith preferring Grealish on the left and Ross Barkley in the central attacking-midfield role.

Now El Ghazi’s got a chance to nail down a starting place for the foreseeable future if he can pick up against Sheffield United where he left off at Leeds.


Smith is right about El Ghazi. He has all the attributes to be a fantastic forward, but his form hasn’t been consistent enough. If the 25-year-old can maintain his high levels, he’ll keep his place in the side when Grealish returns.