Jack Grealish: stats show major one area where ex-Aston Villa man lags behind Manchester City team-mates
The Manchester City star has one big flaw which has let him down this season.
No player had more shots during Manchester City’s 4-1 win over Fulham than Jack Grealish. In total, the former Aston Villa captain registered four efforts, none of which ultimately ended up in the back of the net.
But it was one shot in particular that summed up just where Grealish’s game has lacked since moving in the summer for £100m. In the build-up to Ilkay Gundogan’s equaliser, City’s No.10 received the ball in the box from Phil Foden, before he shimmed, stalled for a split second, and allowed Tim Ream to get in a block on his attempt.
The miss proved to be of little consequence as nine seconds later, the ball was knocked into the back of the net by Gundogan, but the difference between both shots spoke volumes. While the German international glided into a perfect position and passed it into the goal with a first-time finish, Grealish was surrounded by Fulham defenders when he received the ball and took a few seconds to get his shot away.
It wasn’t his first strike of the game either and just minutes prior a weak left-footed effort had caused Paulo Gazzaniga few worries in the away goal.
It’s been a recurring theme for Grealish over this season that his attempts at goal rarely come off, and the growing questions about his form at City would be much less pertinent if he were regularly finding the back of the net.
What the stats say
That’s not to suggest Grealish is having a poor season, he was actually Whoscored’s Man of the Match on Saturday and the stats-based website rank him as the current squad’s seventh-best performer this season.
But there’s also no doubt Grealish is still adjusting to Pep Guardiola’s methods as perhaps the most individualistic player in recent years progresses into one of City’s multi-functional attackers.
The lack of goals is real evidence of that, and the 26-year-old has netted the same number of goals in all competitions this season as defensive players Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo and Rodri, while Cole Palmer and Ferran Torres are on the same tally as Grealish.
Of the regularly starting attacking players (Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus) none have scored fewer than six goals this term, but Grealish is stuck on three.
The England international tends to alternate with Mahrez, Sterling, Foden and Jesus in the front three positions, and alarmingly Grealish lags behind the quartet when it comes to expected goals, shots on target and goals per shots. Even Fernandinho and Laporte outperform the £100m man in the latter.
Not a new phenomenon
The concern for City supporters will not just be that Grealish doesn’t look comfortable in front of goal, but that, in all honesty, he never has.
Even in his pomp at Villa Park, he never was a regular goalscorer and in 213 appearances at his boyhood club he scored just 32 times. Admittedly, that record got much better in recent seasons, but in his final campaign at Villa he netted seven in all competitions, 10 the year before and just six in 2019/20.
Grealish’s England record is also poor and from 18 international caps he scored has just once, in a 5-0 win over Andorra.
Should City fans be concerned?
Despite all the worrisome stats and figures, it’s also worth considering the career trajectory of Grealish’s City team-mates Mahrez and Sterling.
Both had mixed scoring records at their previous sides, but have excelled at the Etihad in front of goal over recent seasons.
Mahrez’s tally in his last two seasons at Leicester were 10 and 13, but this campaign he’s already on 15, admittedly with the winger now taking penalties.
In a similar vein, Sterling bagged 11 and then 10 in his first seasons in Manchester, before those figures shot up to 23, 25 and 31. Last season’s goal return of 14 was seen as a slump given how consistent he’s been in recent years.
For Grealish, he will hope to follow the same path, but for now, some supporters must be questioning whether the Premier League’s most-expensive player will be able to find a regular scoring run in this striker-less side, where sharing the goals evenly is such a valuable commodity.