While Aston Villa’s poor run of form stretches back to January, Dean Smith will welcome any positive news this week as Jack Grealish could be set to return from injury.
The 25-year-old has missed the last six Premier League games, and there is no doubt that Villa have missed their influential playmaker and captain.
In those six outings, Villa have scored just three goals. A damning statistic which will no doubt feed the tedious narrative that this is a ‘one-man side’.
Take any player of Grealish’s quality and influence out of any team, and it’s going to have a hugely negative impact on that XI. Aside from the fact that he has seven goals and 12 assists in 23 games so far this season, he attracts a higher level of attention that results in more space and time for his teammates to be more effective in the final third.
In his absence, we’ve failed to show a cutting edge or that bit of quality needed in front of goal to unlock top Premier League defences, and so his return ultimately can’t come soon enough.
Having returned to training this week, as per the club’s official site, the signs are certainly promising ahead of the visit of Fulham to Villa Park on Sunday.
Nevertheless, it hasn’t been just a no Grealish problem for Villa, as this dip and mid-season malaise started long before his absence through injury.
From the COVID outbreak in January to the hugely frustrating defeats at Burnley and Sheffield United to the smash and grab win at Southampton. There have been some positive moments along the way too, but they’ve been few and far between over the past three months and that has resulted in a slide down the Premier League table.
Having at one stage been highly fancied by some to challenge for a Champions League berth, Villa have fallen off the pace in dramatic fashion since and so that slump will hopefully come to an end starting this weekend.
It’s hoped that a Grealish return and a revitalised and largely rested squad after the international break can ensure that there is still plenty to enjoy in the remaining 10 games of the campaign as we look to finish off in positive fashion. That in turn could allow us to look back on a season of progress and take that momentum into the summer transfer window and the next campaign as we continue to push on and show growth and improvement on and off the pitch.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) March 29, 2021