Jack Grealish’s first Manchester derby was not really his first Manchester derby. The £ 100m man was an unused replacement.
Instead, other technical talents such as Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan led Manchester United’s gay dance while Phil Foden took on the usual role of the summer signing on the left wing.
But it’s not just that quality quartet pushing him into the shadows – Grealish has been overtaken by seven of his new Manchester City team-mates in the Premier League this season.
Does Jack Grealish have less of an impact this season?
It doesn’t help that his 6 percent shot conversion is the lowest of any City player to find the net in the highest flight.
A bad finish, both from him and from others, barely helped: he has xG (Expected Goals) a total of 1.79 and xA (Expected Aids) of 2.37, but only one goal and two assists. However, the numbers also suggest that he did not pose enough of a threat.
Grealish has an xG per 95 minutes (xG / 95) of 0.22 this season, which means he only occupies the eighth place in the City squad, well behind Ferran Torres (0.74) and Riyad Mahrez (0.60). But Raheem Sterling (0.44), an alternative on the left, is also well ahead of his compatriot.
It may not reflect well that Gundogan’s xG / 95 is almost double that of Grealish, but even Fernandinho poses more of a goal-scoring threat than Aston Villa’s ex-boyfriend.
In a better team, the rookie did less in front of goal.
He shoots less, averaging 1.90 shots per 95 minutes compared to 2.02 and 1.99 in his last two seasons with Aston Villa. His expected 95-minute assists fell from 0.34 last season to 0.29 now.
Grealish is directly involved in a league goal every 258 minutes this season, compared to all 249 in 2019-20 and every 147 minutes last season.
Now, among those commonly used in the previous three by Pep Guardiola in the Premier League this season, that average puts him behind Mahrez (105), Torres (106), Gabriel Jesus (116) and Foden (150) while just ahead Sterling. (435).
Why are Grealish’s statistics low?
There’s the possibility that Grealish is holding back to try to be too much of a team player.
Nine City players average more shots per 90 minutes. In a list led by Mahrez, Grealish even follows Joao Cancelon and Fernandinho.
It’s partly because he takes less optimistic long-distance efforts than some – and, perhaps as a result, only Foden and Silva had a higher percentage of their attempts actually on target – but also reflects that, perhaps because he can spend a lot. from his time near the touchline, he is not in scoring positions as often as some others.
His goal against Norwich is his only shot from less than 12 yards in a central area. He only had two shots with an xG value of over 0.10 this season. City’s other wingers get into winning positions more often; they can both tighten play and then get into the box.
What has Grealish done well this season?
The auxiliary numbers may be bleak for Grealish, but the statistics suggest he had an indirect impact.
He has the highest expected aids in the City squad but Jesus, with an xA of 2.31, has five actual aids.
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The English forward has found a teammate in the punk box 20 times, behind only Cancelo (30) in the City squad and ranking him seventh in the division – Grealish finished sixth on that chart last season.
He was third for key passes then and is third again, with Grealish being the only City player in the top 19 in the league at present.
Grealish is fourth in the league for shot-making actions, with Silva the next City representative in 18th.
The £ 100m man leads one table for random creation: his 5.73 shot-making actions at 95 minutes are more than anyone else, although De Bruyne (5.17) is fifth. But in other respects, Grealish may be involved less than expected.
Lack of involvement hurting Grealish
He tried 0.51 passes per minute this season, just over 0.50 last season, but now he’s on a team that had 60.6 percent of possession, while Villa had 49.3 percent last season.
Part of Grealish’s role when they stay tall and wide is to create a place for others. Perhaps Cancelo is a beneficiary: the Portuguese had more than twice as many touches as Grealish (1,092 to 474).
This season, 66 percent of Grealish’s touchdowns are in the final third. Last season, it was only 57 percent. If that partly reflects playing on a better team, it’s also an indication of different tactics, where Grealish picks up the ball less often in deeper but central positions.
Maybe he’s sacrificing himself for the side and it may take time for Grealish to adjust tactically to get the kind of close ends that City’s other wingers have often won, but the £ 100 million fee can give expectations.
So far, Grealish is common 66th in the Premier League for goals and common 15th for assists. And when the Manchester derby arrived, he was the most expensive spectator at Old Trafford.