Speaking in his post-match press conference, Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has raved about Jack Grealish’s impressive display against Norwich.
In the Boxing Day clash, Villa registered a very important win over their fellow relegation battlers courtesy of a strike from substitute Conor Hourihane. Grealish was the man to provide the assist for the match-winning goal, and his overall performance was very good too.
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As per Sofascore, his 8.0 match rating was the joint-highest of any player on the pitch, and when looking at the underlying numbers, it is easy to see why. He won 13 of his 16 total duels, completed all four of his attempted dribbles, and provided two key passes too.
And speaking after the game, Smith was quick to hail his side’s talisman, and insisted there is plenty of room for development over the coming seasons. He said (as quoted by Yahoo Sport): “He can get better still. There’s still more to come. This is his highest goalscoring season of his career and he’s starting to make a lot more assists now and he’s doing it at the top table, so there’s certainly more to come.
“He thrives on pressure though. I spoke to them before the game and I said we’ve actually put ourselves under more pressure with our recent performances. We lost one of our best players in John McGinn, but Jack showed what he is all about.”
Make no mistake about it, Grealish’s performances are key to Villa’s hopes of Premier League survival this season. As Smith alluded to, he has been impressive in front of goal, netting seven times across all competitions. But his assist for Hourihane’s strike on Boxing Day saw him pick up his sixth assist too, and it will be vital for his side that he breaks double figures in both categories by the end of the campaign.
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Having a great team built on cohesion and spirit is always so important. But having an inspirational figure who can win games on his own can prove to be the difference-maker in the contests where it is so tight and difficult to see a winner. Grealish has already proven he can do that with his eye for a goal and pass, and Smith has unsurprisingly pinned his hopes on him to deliver on a consistent basis.