Aston Villa vs Chelsea: Ollie Watkins offers Nicolas Jackson hope of turning bad misses into bags of goals

Aston Villa vs Chelsea: Ollie Watkins offers Nicolas Jackson hope of turning bad misses into bags of goals

Nicolas Jackson's wretched finishing continues to bedevil his debut Chelsea campaign, but the Senegal forward is keeping elite company when it comes to costly misses.

The 22-year-old has fired 10 Premier League goals this term but has also missed 20 big chances in top-flight action.

The £30million summer recruit might sit equal-16th when it comes to the scoring charts, but he’s joint-third in the miss parade.

Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez have fluffed their finishing lines more than anyone else, but Jackson shares third spot with Ollie Watkins — a striker he will face at Aston Villa tonight.

Of course, Villa striker Watkins boasts 19 league goals in a fine campaign which clearly offsets his high miss quota. He is now 28 and approaching his prime, while Jackson can still be bracketed as a work in progress, due to his relative youth and status.

When Watkins was Jackson's age, for a contextual comparison, he returned 11 Championship goals in the 2017-18 season for Brentford. He had to wait two more seasons to break the 20-goal mark and the 11-cap England man is poised to crack the 20-goal Premier League milestone for the first time this term.

Just as Watkins required time and hard graft to sharpen his instincts in front of goal, so too does Jackson.

Instant gratification was perhaps always beyond the ex-Villarreal man this term, but his debut campaign numbers still bear promise. His game away from the goalmouth harbours potential too, with his purple patches in build-up, link play and taking on defenders all indicative of how he commanded last summer's sizeable fee.

A hot streak certainly runs through Jackson, as evidenced in his penalty spat with Noni Madueke, Conor Gallagher and Cole Palmer in the 6-0 win over Everton.

The sight of Jackson petulantly trying to swipe penalty duties away from designated taker Palmer infuriated the Stamford Bridge faithful as much as manager Mauricio Pochettino. Jackson is understood to have taken his manager's open criticism on the chin and resolved to add maturity to his approach.

Passion, desire and fight are all qualities rightly praised by coaches and fans alike, but a lack of control is both unwelcome and unwarranted.

The 5-0 thrashing at Arsenal on Tuesday added a new air of ignominy to a troubled campaign for the Blues.

Chelsea's continued state of flux under Todd Boehly and Clearlake can account for a certain unsettled feeling among players, but focus has to trump fire for the Blues' stars now.