Dan Bardell has been speaking on the latest episode of Aston Villa podcast 1874, where he discussed the Villans’ best midfield lineup.
After narrowly avoiding relegation on the final day of the previous campaign, Dean Smith’s side have been a much-improved outfit this season and are currently sitting in ninth place in the Premier League standings.
The Villans spent heavily over the summer to bolster their ranks, bringing in the likes of Emiliano Martinez and Ollie Watkins to improve their fortunes, but it’s in midfield where the Midlands side have the most strength in depth.
Douglas Luiz, John McGinn, Ross Barkley, Marvelous Nakamba, Jacob Ramsey and January signing, Morgan Sanson, regularly battle for a place in Smith’s starting XI, however, Bardell believes a simple position switch for Jack Grealish could provide the best combination for Villa.
Grealish predominantly features on the left-hand side for his boyhood club but started five consecutive fixtures through the middle over the winter, and his performances have left Bardell wanting to see more.
He said: “You could argue that the best midfield doesn’t even include one of the six central midfielders that you were talking about, in that Jack could play as a number 10 and [Anwar] El Ghazi on the left, because when Jack was 10, and El Ghazi was left, we were really playing well before Christmas.
“I think Luiz and McGinn are the best two at sitting in front of the back four, I think that’s where Villa have picked up most of their clean sheets, that’s where Villa’s best performances have come from.”
TIF Thoughts on Grealish…
Grealish is Villa’s captain and talisman and is supremely important to the Villa Park outfit. He’s been in incredible form throughout 2020/21, bagging six goals and providing an astonishing 12 assists in his 22 top-flight appearances.
Therefore, getting the most out of the 25-year-old is arguably pivotal to Smith’s side’s fortunes, and it’s important for them to maximise Grealish’s time on the ball and influence over proceedings.
Starting the England international through the middle on a regular basis may just do this, but Villa may have to wary of trying to fix something that isn’t broken, taking their league position into account.