During the summer, Tottenham were doing everything in their power to add Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish to their ranks ahead of an extremely tough Carabao Cup push. Erm, I mean Premier League and Champions League push.
The 23-year-old, who has shin pads smaller than Spurs’ trophy cabinet, ended up staying in the Championship after Villa were taken over by two billionaire investors. Jack’s shin pads are VERY small, btw.
The Villa Park faithful wouldn’t hesitate in telling you that Grealish, and perhaps by some stretch, is their best player.
However, has the floppy-haired number ten now found some competition for ‘Villa’s best player’ in summer signing John McGinn?
Formations & Average Positions
This season, under the recently-sacked Steve Bruce and the newly-appointed Dean Smith, Villa have deployed a 4-1-4-1 formation for 40% of their matches. During the former’s reign, Villa also switched to a 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-4-1-1 and 4-2-3-1 formation, all in the space of 11 matches. The reason being? Well, Bruce is a clueless ****.
In terms of average positions, both have, for the majority, played central roles, with Grealish playing that little further ahead of the Scottish International. Added with that, he has also played out wide on certain occasions, a position he used to play during his younger days. Not only that, Grealish also likes to drift over to the left-hand side when playing through the middle because he likes to link up with Albert Adomah. Whilst Grealish boasts a medium-ish work rate, there is no doubt that McGinn works his socks off every game.
You Better Defend Or I’ll Bring Back Bruce!
It won’t surprise many that McGinn has better defensive qualities than Grealish. Whether the Scotsman is winning the ball high up the pitch or making a last-ditch tackle, he beats his teammate in every defensive department.
McGinn has made 2.3 tackles per game this season, whilst Grealish has made 1.1 as Villa struggle to find consistency in their promotion push. In terms of interceptions, Villa’s summer signing has made 1.3 per game, with his more attacking teammate coming in at 0.6.
The statistic which McGinn shines brighter than the former England Under-21 international is dribbles in the defensive half per game. McGinn, who likes to drive with the ball from deep, has dribbled on 1.3 occasions per game. With Grealish at a measly 0.1. However, that will be more down to the fact that the former’s starting position will be deeper than Villa’s academy product.
Attack Like A Spanish Pulis
This is where it gets interesting. To the naked eye, Grealish is the better ball carrier than his teammate. His close control and ability to dribble out of tight areas is better than the former Hibernian man’s.
After 14 Championship encounters, McGinn has provided two more assists to Grealish’s one and scored that extra goal. Not forgetting that Villa’s new man has played two fewer games, one because of a suspension, and the other because the poor lad was still up North. Saying that, it needs to be remembered that both also take set-pieces.
Regarding shots per game, Grealish (2.1) edges out his teammate (1.7), though the arrival of the more-attacking Dean Smith should see those averages rise. As regards to key passes made per game, both cross the finish line at the same time (1.9). When it comes to dribbles in the attacking half per game, as expected, the baby-faced Grealish wins that race (1.8) compared to the more rough-looking McGinn (1.3). Where Jack blows McGinn out of the water is the number of times he has been fouled per game. Astonishingly, Grealish is fouled nearly five times per game, the most in the second tier of English football. Whilst, the more-physical McGinn has been fouled 1.8 times per game.
Guardiola’s favourite three words: Pass, Pass, Pass
Concerning the passing qualities of Villa’s midfield duo, both have made 1.9 key passes per game, another stat which will be expected to rise under the more possession-based Smith. When it comes to average passes per game, Grealish has made 44.8 at a percentage of 86.3, with McGinn making 40.1 passes per game at a percentage of 81.3. Despite, on occasions, being utilised out wide by Bruce this term, McGinn edges his partner when it comes to crosses per game (1.4) compared to just the 1 for Jack. As regards to Bruce’s favourite tactic, long balls, McGinn once again wins this battle. His 3.8 long balls per game beat Grealish’s 2.6.
There will be many Villa supporters, who understandably, would have Grealish over McGinn any day of the week. However, there is no doubting that, so far, the Scotsman has outperformed the Englishman. If truth be told, Grealish hasn’t performed anywhere near his best during these opening 14 matches, whilst Villa’s 24-year-old has been in top form. Before a ball was kicked, Grealish would have been the first player on Villa’s team sheet. However, as seen above, McGinn possesses an all-around game that makes him, for now at least, more important than Villa’s fan favourite. His ability to be aggressive in a tackle, protect the ball magnificently, win the ball high up the pitch, win one-on-one duels, drive with the ball through the middle of the park, and deliver a pin-point set-piece makes him, at this moment, a better player than Grealish.