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How to stop Jack Grealish

Blind Hammer looks at the main man for Villa.

Despite his relatively tender 24 years, Jack Grealish is already a legend at Villa Park. A Villa supporter through and through he has shown loyalty as Villa managed to fight off suitors, including allegedly West Ham, and especially Tottenham whilst Villa languished in the Championship. Now he is reaping the benefits of this loyalty as he enjoys a return to the Premiership with his boyhood club.

During their promotion campaign, Grealish was essential to Villa’s success, their late run into the Playoffs from a relatively poor start coinciding with his return from injury. They are literally a different and better side with his presence in the team.

So what does he bring to Villa?

Grealish’s stats so far this season are not that astounding. He has, so far, contributed 1 goal and 1 assist. Statistically, he is poor in the air and surprisingly his crossing is identified as a weakness by Who-Scors.com.

Yet the Hammers should disregard Grealish at their peril. Grealish is the engine room of the Villa midfield and is most threatening with mazy runs from deep, countering any press and carrying Villa from defence into attack. His running is relentless and he is an important powerhouse for Villa.

So his direct impact from goals and assists has to be supplemented by a recognition of the threat he poses with his dribbling runs from midfield. Most often these runs are countered by fouls preventing his posing an immediate threat to goal. Who-scores.com confirm the impression that he is one of the most fouled Villa players, enabling villa to provide a persistent threat from the resulting set-pieces.

So how do West Ham counter Grealish? Given his centrality to the Villa game plan he probably needs special attention. His energy of relentless running needs to be confronted by equally athletic attention from the West Ham midfield. Plan A should really on matching Grealish’s athleticism and pace. I worry whether Mark Noble has the pace to counter Grealish and can see a possible yellow or red looming for Nobes if he has primary responsibility. Rice may be a better candidate for taking especial care of Grealish.
Whoever does take care of Grealish need assistance and reinforcement in the second half to prevent him wearing the West Ham midfield down. Snodgrass or even Sanchez may be critical in providing the fresh legs needed to counter Grealish’s running.

As Grealish wins more than his share of free-kicks West ham’s defending from set-pieces will also need to be top-notch.

Finally, I hate to suggest this but West Ham have suffered more than most from Tactical fouling this season, in particular against Manchester city. Whilst the rules confronting tactical fouling are so weak and ineffectual it makes sense for West Ham to decide that if they cannot beat the system they should join the club of those using this cynical tactic. I want to see this negative fouling eliminated from the game but both Liverpool and Manchester City are exploiting the rules so other clubs must follow. The evidence is that fouling Grealish early whilst he is still in his own half before he has a chance to start his run is far more effective than fouling high up the pitch when he is advancing on goal.


David Griffith

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About David Griffith

My Father, born in 1891 was brought up in the shadows of the Thames Ironworks Memorial Ground. I remember as a child jumping over the settee when Alan Sealy scored in our 1965 European Cup Winners triumph. My first game was against Leicester in 1968, when Martin Peters scored what was adjudged by ITV’s Big Match as the Goal of the Season. I became a season ticket holder in 1970. I was registered blind in 1986 and thought my West Ham supporting days were over. However in 2010 I learnt about the fantastic support West Ham offer to Blind and other Disabled Supporters. I now use the Insightful Irons in-stadium commentary service and West Ham provide space for my Guide Dog Nyle. I sit on the West Ham Disabled Supporters Board and the LLDC Built Environment Access Panel. David Griffith aka Blind Hammer

6 comments on “How to stop Jack Grealish

  1. So are we condoning foul play?? Sad day for football or any other sport.

  2. Certainly not condoning but the sad rea;reality is that “professional” and tactical fouling has been a part of all team’s tactic for generations. It is particularly difficult when this tactical fouling is precisely the tactic that successful teams like Man City and Liverpool, lauded for their football, cynically deploy. They would not be able to sustain their high pitch dominance safely otherwise. The rule need to be changed and a sin bin would reduce the incentives. I predict that West Ham will foul Grealish more than any other Villa player tomorrow anyway. This is a sad reality. The question then is where they will foul him.

  3. Good article, David. Grealish is a player that likes the ball, likes going forward into dangerous territory and can dribble – hence the fouls. He’s a good talent, but there are similar players in most Prem teams. Man-marking doesn’t appear to have been MP’s tactic last season (thank God Hazard has gone to pastures new!). Not convinced about tactical fouls but the point about Noble lunging in when tired is a fair one. Villa look a decent team and I think it’ll be a draw – dare I say ‘respect the point’? COYI.

  4. i understand Grealish is the one that makes them tick but lets flip this argument 180 and as how do they plan to stop Lanzini Anderson and Yarmolenko all running at them and then there is the small matter of Haller who will be a handful for both centre backs add the likes of Snoddy coming of the bench to freshen things up I think they have more to thin about than us.Really looking forward to seeing the game and hopefully keep the run going COYI

  5. Fredericks has the athleticism for the job but obviously there’s danger in him being pulled out of position. I’d hate us to join the dirty brigade – I think the game’s the worse for shirt-pulling, half nelsons and ‘simulation’. I don’t think tomorrow is a time to “respect the point”; if we’re serious about a top seven finish this is the sort of side we should hammer. If Norwich can beat MC with eight first team players missing, surely our 95% fit squad can thump Villa. No prisoners, no excuses! COYI.

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