McGinn primed to step up for Villa and take game to next level

Under Dean Smith, a number of Aston Villa players have shown significant improvement and development in their game, and John McGinn has followed suit.

The 27-year-old has been a key player for us since arriving in 2018 from Hibernian, albeit he did miss 15 games in the first half of 2020 after suffering a serious injury.

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It took the Scottish international time to regain his fitness and form after that setback, but as we’ve seen to start this season, he looks to be nearing his best again.

Ultimately, part of that comes down to needing to step up and take on more responsibility with Jack Grealish leaving, while our summer signings have had fitness troubles of their own as they continue to find their feet and gradually become more influential.

However, McGinn has continued to be a pivotal piece in Smith’s XI, and as he showed against Wolves last weekend, he’s continuously evolving into a big player for us.

Last season, McGinn scored three goals and provided five assists in 37 Premier League appearances.

So far this year in just seven outings, he has two goals and an assist to his name. Particularly in the Wolves game, albeit it came in a bitterly disappointing defeat as we threw away three points, McGinn put in one of his best performances this season thus far.

While his work ethic, scrappiness and physical presence adds much-needed solidity to our midfield from a defensive perspective, his technical skill, creativity, ability to burst forward and score goals himself ensure he’s a vital part of our attacking play too.

McGinn is an ideal box-to-box presence for Smith in the heart of the side, offering important contributions in both phases of the game and that in turn has been a major factor as to why he has become a fans’ favourite.

That said, with Douglas Luiz sitting and if Villa go with a three-man midfield, that seemingly gives McGinn more of a license to get forward and be decisive in the final third. We saw that against Wolves, and it’s hoped that trend continues moving forward.

While Villa did spend significantly on new signings this past summer, losing a player of Grealish’s quality also requires other players to step up and fill that void. McGinn will be seen as one of the more senior players in the squad now and so the expectation is that he’ll grow into an even bigger role, and so it’s hoped that we haven’t yet seen the best of him.