Birmingham news The Jack Grealish guessing game as Barkley needs a reality check PremierLeague-News.Com
PremierLeague-News.Com - Aston Villa 1 Leicester City 2 analysis - Here are our findings from Sunday's disappointing defeat with Barkley, Grealish, McGinn, Smith, Cash, Targett and Elmohamady all discussed
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! Anger and outrage dominated Aston Villa chat amongst supporters in the immediate aftermath of yesterday's 2-1 defeat against Leicester City. Dean Smith was irate and irked himself in his post-match press conference as he vowed to sniff out the person - or persons - responsible for leaking Jack Grealish's injury. As for Grealish, he watched on from inside The Gaslamp Lounge in the North Stand on Sunday with question marks surrounding his fitness for this weekend's upcoming game at Leeds, a match he's expected to miss once more given his mysterious issue that's been troubling him since Friday. It was a horror first-half showing which did all the damage for Villa against Leicester, though, with James Maddison and Harvey Barnes scoring within just five minutes of each other. Bertrand Traore responded for Smith's side after the break but it proved to be in vain. Video Loading Video Unavailable Click to play Tap to play The video will auto-play soon8Cancel Play now BirminghamLive's Aston Villa correspondent Ashley Preece was inside Villa Park on Sunday and here are his findings: BARKLEY NEEDS A REALITY CHECK Smith refused to be critical of Ross Barkley's performance against Leicester but the boss did admit the disappointing loanee tired as he was replaced for the ninth game running. The bright and energetic Jacob Ramsey was Barkley's replacement while Smith praised another substitute, Morgan Sanson, for making an impression on another late appearance. "You want selection headaches," Smith said, when asked about his subs proving a point. "You want players coming on and making an impact. I thought Morgan made an impact when he came on. I think that's why we use subs; players want to get 90 minutes and to be as energetic as they can but games are tough and you get tired and, when you do, you get replaced. That's what happened today." Video Loading Video Unavailable Click to play Tap to play The video will auto-play soon8Cancel Play now Barkley hasn't once been amongst the subs since joining Villa this season with Smith starting him in every game he's been available. Now, given his sluggishness against Leicester, that must change this weekend especially knowing Leeds' high-octane and relentless playing style. Barkley's been disappointing since his return and a break out of the starting XI is what's desperately needed with Ramsey and Sanson both showing more in their recent cameos. Barkley's also been guilty of being far too casual of late which was typified when he allowed Youri Tielemans a free run from a Leicester throw-in which led to Barnes' killer second on Sunday. It was unforgivable and a real lapse in concentration which, again, points at Barkley being fatigued once more after his eighth game in 31 days. The 27-year-old was provided with a timely and much-needed reality check by the much brighter - and far better - Maddison on Sunday with the Leicester man showing what you have to do to be knocking on the door for England. THE GREALISH GUESSING GAME (Image: Getty Images) Sunday was the first time in 49 matches that Smith's been without his talismanic skipper to rely on. So, how do you solve a problem without Jack Grealish's brilliance, then? In truth, it's an impossible task knowing Villa have won just twice from 14 league matches without Grealish since his shin fracture in the Championship in 2019. Smith, meanwhile, must now use all of his nous and know-how and should perhaps get his West Midlands champion chess brain working overtime to find a solution to what's clearly a problem. Villa haven't dominated a team since the first-half at Burnley some six games ago with Smith hoping and praying Grealish's issue isn't as serious as first feared. Elsewhere, the gaffer was quick to fume his frustration at the leaked team news on Friday after Grealish was pulled out of training with hearsay pointing at the revelation stemming from first-team stars and members of staff drafting him out of their Premier League Fantasy teams prior to Leicester.
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. "If I'm an optimist maybe he'll be back for Leeds or, if not, Sheffield United but I have to be guided by him and the medical staff and see how it is," was Smith's assessment, knowing he wants to keep the likes of Leeds guessing in terms of their match preparation and, let's face it, who can blame him as he looks for a single crumb of comfort going into the next batch of fixtures.
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MCGINN'S WINGS HAVE BEEN CLIPPED Now I got pelters after filing my player ratings on Sunday after I picked out McGinn as Villa's best player. It was probably an ill-judged call looking back but the Scot caught the attention as he refused to give in during Leicester's dominant spell. The ratings were probably too generous on the whole but Villa did pick up a little bit in the second half with Traore much-improved after the break. Back to McGinn, though, and he reminded supporters what we've been missing for way too long - and that's his penetrative runs into the box. The 26-year-old effectively made Traore's goal after getting beyond Leicester's back line, which is something he did throughout last season prior to his injury.
Leicester City's Wilfred Ndidi (right) and Aston Villa's John McGinn (left) battle for the ball
McGinn, meanwhile, will be among the favourites to keep his place at Leeds on Saturday given their approach, while his performances playing deeper of late pose this very question: has Smith been playing him out of position for the sake of it? McGinn's your raging-bull, goal-scoring midfielder who can score for fun if he's given the license to ghost in behind. Yet, this season, his wings have been clipped and Villa have nullified themselves somewhat going forward. The brutal truth of it, though, is this: Smith's perseverance with Barkley that has been damaging for McGinn in recent months. Villa now, more than ever, need the McGinn of old to return to form and back playing with that attacking intent he possesses. TALE OF TWO FULL-BACKS AS SOUTHGATE CHATS TO CASH
It was a tale of two full-backs in claret and blue on Sunday with Ahmed Elmohamady poor on his return to the side. The Egyptian - in for his first start in 12 games - struggled to contain Barnes throughout with Matty Cash's importance seemingly on a par with Grealish's given the manner of Villa's defeat. As for Cash, he enjoyed a lengthy chat with watching England chief Gareth Southgate in the directors' box just prior to kick-off with the Three Lions boss no doubt complimentary of Cash's breakthrough season in the Premier League. Cash, meanwhile, still has a choice to make in terms of his country with Poland wanting him to make the allegiance to them given Cash's Polish roots. Anyway, that's for another day with Cash doing everything right this season to impress Southgate. Over at left-back, though, and the understated Matt Targett would have given Southgate food for thought after another solid display. Targett was one of Villa's better players against Leicester and showed real craft to create Traore's goal. It's worth mentioning then that Targett's improvement this season has been incredible given his consistency. Targett's become a player Smith and Villa can rely on, that's for sure. KEEP THE FAITH Lastly, it's always good to sign off with some positive vibes knowing Tottenham and Arsenal - the two sides directly below Villa - both lost over the weekend, meaning Villa stay eighth in the table. Today's also a year to the very day when Villa were beaten 2-0 down at Southampton in what was one of the worst showings in recent memory. They've done all right since, haven't they?
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