19 reasons why the Jack Grealish stat is completely meaningless
Premier League newcomers Aston Villa were unfortunate to lose 3-1 to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday
They lead for a long stretch of the game thanks to a wonderfully taken goal by John McGinn and, right up until the introduction of Christian Eriksen, looked comfortable keeping Spurs at bay. Unfortunately, this is the Premier League and the lapses in concentration they committed as the clock ticked down were duly punished by Tanguy Ndombele and Harry Kane - two world-class players. You get away with it in the Championship. Welcome to the big boys' league.
It was a tough lesson to learn on the opening weekend of the season but a valuable one, particularly for Villa's talisman and captain Jack Grealish. He was arguably at fault for the second goal, loitering on the ball (as he always does - usually to great effect) just outside his own box and getting ambushed from behind by Erik Lamela as he was looking up for a pass.
Lamela swiped the ball, took a shot that somehow hit Douglas Luiz, Tyrone Mings and then Bjorn Engels before falling neatly into the path of Kane, one on one with Heaton, who didn't need a second invitation to tuck it away.
So whilst it was a result of Grealish losing the ball, something he very rarely does, it's difficult to blame him too heavily as there was a huge slice of luck involved in the clear cut chance falling to Kane.
After the game, a stat began doing the rounds on Twitter highlighting Grealish's current losing run in the Premier League - 19 games and counting. According to Opta, it's the longest run of any player in the competition's history.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 10, 2019
Putting any value into that, or using it to diminish Jack Grealish's abundant qualities as a player, however, is complete nonsense. Here are 19 reasons why. A reason for each defeat, you see?
1. Gareth Bale
You do know who Gareth Bale is, don't you?
After the Welshman signed for Spurs for £7 million (rising to £10m) from Southampton in 2007, he went on a run of 24 games with the club without experiencing a win.
One Premier League Player of the Season award, La Liga title and four Champions League medals later, it seems he turned out alright. Didn't he? DIDN'T HE?
2. Are you aware just how bad the Villa side Jack Grealish was playing in was?
The 19 losses Grealish has played in break down into two defeats during the 14/15 season and 18 during the following campaign, 15/16, along with Tottenham last Saturday.
Judging a player based on those results, which were almost entirely racked up during a season in which Aston Villa won just three games and finished bottom of the Premier League, is ridiculous. In fact, he should be given credit. That was his first proper run in top level senior football and it came during the most shambolic period in the club's history.
It's remarkable he has turned into the player he has given the trouncings he was forced to endure due to the chaos around him.
3. No, honestly. In one of those defeats - a 6-1 thrashing at Southampton - Sadio Mane managed to score a hattrick in two minutes and 56 seconds
Two minutes and 56 seconds. You can't even microwave a Tesco ready meal properly in that time.
3. His age
Just to expand on that last point, Jack Grealish was 19 years old when he made his debut, before turning 20 near the start of the season during which he accumulated the vast majority of those defeats. 20 years old. Come on.
4. His managers
Tim Sherwood. Kevin MacDonald. Remi Garde. Eric Black. That's a full Mount Rushmore of awful.
5. His dressing room
During his breakthrough period in the Aston Villa first-team, Grealish was hardly surrounded by the model professional, experienced veterans every club needs to help blood young talent.
Here's a quick overview:
- Gabriel Agbonlahor, his boyhood hero, was at that stage overweight, injury-prone and more than happy just to pick up his paycheck. He retired last March, aged only 32.
- Micah Richards. Club captain at the time and a complete headless chicken of a centre back. Didn't play a single game during his final two years at the club and has also recently retired, aged 31.
- Joleon Lescott. Literally tweeted a picture of his Mercedes after the fans were on his back following a 6-0 defeat to Liverpool all but relegated the team. Claimed it accidentally occurred in his pocket.
- Aly Cissokho. No explanation. It's Aly Cissokho.
- That's literally it. Kieran Richardson? Alan Hutton was arguably the most shining example of a professional footballer at the club at this point. ALAN HUTTON.
6. Do you know how vital Grealish was to this team last season?
In 2018/19, Aston Villa's win percentage with Jack Grealish in the team was 78%.
Without him it was 22%.
7. The historic run
And even more telling than that, Dean Smith made the bold decision to hand the midfielder the captain's armband on his return from a three-month layoff with a shin injury.
Villa beat Derby 4-0.
They then put together 10 wins on the bounce with Grealish as skipper, the single best winning streak in the club's 144-year history.
8. The promotion
He fulfilled the prophecy, a boyhood fan leading us back to the promised land through all the emotion and drama of the playoffs. What more do you want from him?
9. Of his last 16 games for Villa, Grealish has only tasted defeat three times
That seems a more telling stat than tallying up losses from several seasons ago, doesn't it?
10. His performance in the 2015 FA Cup Semi-Final
This came right as the 'losing streak' in the Premier League was just getting started, 12 days on from his full debut. He was arguably the best player on the pitch, outshining the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling, and two beautifully weighted passes into the other outstanding player on the day, Fabian Delph, led to both of Villa's goals.
He was 19 years old, it was his second game for Aston Villa Football Club and it came in a semi-final in front of 80,000 people at Wembley. Staggeringly good.
11. Which brings me to the point: Can you really call it a losing streak if there is a three-year hiatus in between?
Well, can you?
12. No, no you can't
I don't think you can. If I go bowling, get a couple of strikes with my last two balls and then don't play for years because of a wrist injury, can I really call it a streak if I come back to Tamworth Megabowl a decade later, wolf down a Wimpy and continue knocking down all the pins?
Honestly saw someone in a tweet say 'the streak extends across three seasons'. Yeah. Three seasons... with a three-season gap in between.
13. He's getting an England call-up this season
Yeah, admittedly we're getting quite stretched with the reasons now, aren't we? But that just shows how tenuous it is to have a run of 19 unrelated events strung together and called a streak.
I don't know how him getting into the England team cancels the losing streak, but it does. And it will almost certainly have ended long before he walks out for the Three Lions, anyway.
14. That's another point, this streak is ending soon anyway
Of their next four games, Villa play three at Villa Park (where they have won 7 of their last 8 league games) and one away from home. They face Bournemouth, Everton and West Ham in Birmingham and Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Judging by a hugely positive performance against Spurs, Champions League finalists last season, chances are they are picking up points during this stretch. They are winning one of those games.
15. Again, it was Spurs
Spurs. Away from home. At their new stadium. First game of the season. Newly promoted. A whole new team gelling together. Against Champions League finalists.
Adding that on to the 'streak' as though it means anything for Grealish is very, very silly.
16. 19 games is nothing
Just ask Fort William, the Scottish football club located near Ben Nevis, who went three whole seasons, 73 games and 840 days without tasting victory.
If they can break that duck, well...
FORT WILLIAM 5-2 NAIRN COUNTY
— Fort William FC (@FortWilliamFC) July 31, 2019
17. Running out of reasons tbh so here is a certified Jack Grealish banger (with Titanic music)
18. Here's another (without Titanic music)
19. And finally
Are. You. Seriously. Using. A. Pointless. Stat. To. Tell. Me. This. Guy. Right. Here. Isn't. Good. At. Football. Are. You. Honestly. Fucking. Kidding. Me.