Jack Grealish said it has been “far more difficult” than he anticipated to adjust to Manchester City’s style of play.
Coming off the bench, the £100 million England playmaker set up the game-winning goal for the champions against Chelsea.
Despite City’s lackluster performance at Stamford Bridge, substitute Grealish provided the winning goal. When he played a slide-rule pass across the face of the six-yard box to teammate Riyad Mahrez. Who scored an easy tap-in.
With his third assist of the season, Grealish has equaled his total for all of last season’s Premier League play. However, the former Aston Villa star still had more goal involvements (16; 6 goals, 10 assists) in his final season in the Midlands than he has had in almost 18 months with City (10 – four goals, six assists).
After City’s 1-0 win brought them within five points of leaders Arsenal, 27-year-old winger Jack Grealish told Sky Sports, “When I arrived here, I’ll be honest with you, it was so much more tough than I imagined.”
“I had this idea that I was joining the team currently atop the league. And that I would immediately begin piling up goals and assists. In contrast to how most of our opponents play against us, Villa pressed us throughout the match.”
Grisha continued: “At Villa, I always had an overlapping full-back thanks to the instructions of former manager Dean Smith. If the right side, midfield, or my favoured position had a weak defense, I could hug the touchline.
“I spent my entire life at Villa before moving to City, so I didn’t have to adjust to anything there. That’s just the way things have always been for me. A new team and a new management are challenges I wasn’t prepared for.”
Grealish and Mahrez scored 3 minutes, 43 seconds into their debuts to tie the game and cut Arsenal’s league lead.
For example, “we’ve had games this season where they’ve got a back five and they’ve sat in against us,” Grealish said, referring to Everton and Brentford.
It felt so much more open against a back four today, and we were saying we needed to get on the field immediately.
Is the difference in the championship race the result of a benching in City?
When Arsenal played Newcastle at home on Tuesday, the game ended in a dismal 0-0 tie, and Gunners manager Mikel Arteta made only one substitution due to a lack of offensive depth.
On the other hand, Guardiola was able to make two substitutions at Chelsea costing a combined £160 million and they paid benefits within minutes.
“Grealish’s body language is outstanding if he plays or doesn’t play. These type of individuals always perform good,” Guardiola said to Sky Sports.
“I had no doubt that Riyad [Mahrez] would be given adequate room. In the final third, he excels when given the opportunity to play one-on-one.”
Indeed, Mahrez is developing a name for himself as a great sub. Since joining Manchester City this season, the Algerian winger has scored more goals than any other Premier League substitute.
To paraphrase, “The Manchester City bench is a bit shady, no?” The ex-Chelsea forward Chris Sutton made the remark on BBC Radio 5 Live.
“The question is whether that will prove to be the deciding factor this year. Do they own a stronger team than Arsenal?
“When he doesn’t score enough goals or provide enough assists, Grealish takes some criticism.
To quote the commentator, “But there was a moment of brilliance for the goal; he knew precisely what he wanted to accomplish, and the weight of the ball, not too hard, not too soft, was simply right for Mahrez.”
After a sloppy first half from Guardiola’s side, substitutes Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez helped turn the game around. Also, after coming on at halftime, 18-year-old Rico Lewis provided another assured display.
Guardiola said on Match of the Day, “In the first half everything was sloppy, we had no rhythm; then we got better when Rico came in.”
“The game will be better with him on it. He can play at a high level himself and still inspire his teammates to raise their game.
I can’t think of anything more exceptional than such talent in a midfielder.