Football News

Jack Grealish and John McGinn: Aston Villa have one of the Premier League’s most interesting midfields

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 8:29, 2 November 2019

Aston Villa are enjoying a modest start to life back in the Premier League.

After the opening 10 matchdays Dean Smith’s men sit in 15th place and just three points above the danger zone. However, in their midst are two of the league’s top-performing midfielders, captain Jack Grealish and John McGinn.

Both have been ever-present this season with McGinn one of three Villa players (along with goalkeeper Tom Heaton and defender Tyrone Mings) to play every single minute.

Grealish, previously coveted by Tottenham Hotspur, has proven to be a tricky customer for the opposition with his innate ability to draw contact and win fouls, making him a valuable player for the Birmingham-based outfit at both ends of the pitch.

In his own half, being able to quickly change direction makes it difficult for those pressing him to execute their task efficiently and, when operating in the final third, he’s a real threat to collect free-kicks in dangerous areas.

After gameweek 10, no one has been more fouled than Grealish (41) with only Wilfried Zaha picking up more in the final third than him. When he’s in possession, though, the 24-year-old is a threatening attacking force. Playing from the left half-space, only the imperious Kevin De Bruyne (26) has created more chances in open play than him (24).

Such eye-catching performances attracted the attention of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, who ruled out an imminent move saying he’s even “too expensive” for the Premier League champions.

“He’s incredible,” he told reporters. “A top player. I’m happy he stayed in the Championship to defend his club. He’s a talented player who always creates something. An exceptional player but too expensive for Manchester!”

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Grealish is not the only Villan making headlines so far this season. His fellow midfielder McGinn, who has recently been linked with a move to Manchester United, is also putting up some impressive numbers.

Across the opening 10 matches, he’s the only Premier League player to register 20+ shots (32), fouls won (28), tackles made (27) and take-ons completed. The cornerstone behind these figures is no doubt his explosive off-the-ball dynamism which makes him extremely hard to mark.

Not only that, McGinn’s wherewithal to arrive late in the box, at times bypassing Villa’s lone centre-forward, enables him to become a major goal threat. But, he’s not a one-trick pony, on the count of his lethal left-foot, which turns him into a danger from long distance. So far, only Wesley (4) has outscored McGinn (3).

It remains to be seen whether Villa are capable of holding onto this dynamic pair come January and beyond.