Aston Villa star midfielder Jack Grealish hasn’t hit the ground running in the Premier League as he would have wished, but he has shown flashes of what he is capable of doing and will hope he can impress Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate.
Making England’s Euros 2020 squad is definitely as important to the Villa skipper as keeping his side in the top half of the top-flight, and the campaign will be deemed very successful if he ends up doing both.
After spending the last three seasons in the Championship, Grealish has quickly realized the Premier League is a different ballgame, and he was given a reality check after he was caught out of possession and saw his error lead to a goal against Tottenham Hotspur.
The 24-year-old prepares for every game by watching every of the opposition players Villa are to play, and he has named two midfielders he could struggle to get the better of.
“I always know who I’m coming up against and what type of player he is going to be. I’ll find out whether the opposition midfielders like to lunge in or sit back. So much work goes into the preparation. We have clips of every single player available to watch, and it’s not just one or two — it could be hundreds,” Grealish told The Athletic.
“Certain players just watch a little bit of football — not me, I watch everything. When I’m at home, no matter what game is on, I will watch it. Ask me about any player and I’ll know all about him. I know in advance the player I’m coming up against in the next game, whether they will be strong, fast, easy to get at, technically good or bad… If I’m up against a fast, strong player, I change my game. I move it quicker and play one-twos to get around him.
“I back myself against any player but I know I need to adapt sometimes. For example, N’Golo Kante is fast and energetic and in your face. I’d approach a game against him a bit differently. Jefferson Lerma for Bournemouth the other week was very much in my face, too. But there will be players — who I’m not going to name — that I believe I can get the better of.”
Villa have won just one league game this season, losing the three others, and they will be looking forward to getting all three points when they host West Ham United on Monday.
The onus is on Grealish to run the show in the middle of the park at Villa Park against the Hammers, and failure to pick up at least a point will set the alarm bells ringing.
The English midfielder has to prove himself week in, week out against the best players in the top-flight, and how he fares this term will have a huge say on the Villans’ campaign.