It is of no coincidence that Aston Villa’s recent resurgence in form has coincided with the return of Jack Grealish from injury.
After missing two months of action in the Championship, the England Under-21 international made an immediate impact in last month’s clash with Derby County as he scored his third goal of the campaign in a 4-0 victory for the Lions. Grealish then backed up this performance by firing in the winner in the winner against Villa’s arch-rivals Birmingham City a week later much to the delight of the club’s supporters.
A key component in Dean Smith’s side, the midfielder has been a major reason for why the club has won their last six fixtures in the league, a run of form which has allowed supporters to dream of a return to Wembley Stadium following last year’s play-off final defeat to Fulham.
The Lions’ latest win came at Rotherham United on Wednesday and featured arguably one of the best team goals of the season so far. With the score tied at 1-1, Grealish picked up the ball on the half-way line and beat three players before placing a wonderful side-footed finish into the bottom corner after a one-two with Ahmed Elmohamady.
This sequence alone justifies why the 23-year-old has a valuation of £18m on Transfermarkt as it is clear that at his very best, he possesses qualities that are more suited to the Premier League than the second tier. Therefore, if there is any player who is capable of single-handedly derailing Leeds United’s hopes of securing a top-two finish in May, it is Grealish.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side face Villa in the penultimate fixture of the season in a clash which is looking increasingly likely to define who secures automatic promotion in May. Although the Lions are fighting for a play-off position, the Whites could still be displaced by Sheffield United in the standings and so will be wary of the danger that this particular clash could present.
If Grealish produces yet another special moment this season at Elland Road, Leeds may have to settle for the lottery of the play-offs, a competition that they have not had a good relationship with in the past.
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