Thinking About Accrington In The Shower

ALI: Hello guys, welcome to a Not The Top 20 Podcast. As always it's me, Ali Maxwell, with him, George Elek, and this week we celebrated the return of the championship after a week-long break. I mean, the results speak for themselves; just a whole League's worth of incredibly tight games - some between two good teams, some of them between two not-so good teams - but all the games across the weekend just unbelievably tight, so it was hard to pick any specific ones. We can't talk about all of them, but what we will do is pick out some of the ones that threw up things that we found most interesting. First and foremost, we're going to start with two new eras; by which we mean the two Championship sides whose managers took charge of their first games. In Aston Villa's case, Dean Smith; in Brentford's case, Thomas Frank. I've made an error already calling them managers, because I think both of them are probably head coaches; welcome to the modern era, George. Aston Villa under Dean Smith, (UNCLEAR)'one of' their winners against Swansea; watching that one back and analyzing the game, how did you consider his first game in charge to have gone?

GEORGE: Well, they certainly created chances - Tammy Abraham scored probably the trickiest of three chances, he could have had a (UNCLEAR)'hatty'- had one of those really, really good header though, that he put away to put them one-nil up. I thought Jack Grealish looked very, very lively indeed; a really nice passing for the pre-assist, can we call it? For the goal as well; and good to see Nyland the keeper, he's had a tricky start making some crucial saves as well too to keep them in it. So probably as you'd imagine with the Dean Smith team, looking very fluid going forward; a lot of people giving John McGinn rave reviews for his performance as well, I think his best performance of the season so far. Certainly the keepers as well, but they did concede chances; but definitely a good start for Dean Smith.

ALI: Pre-assist is one of those phrases that just winds some people up so much, but we know our listener base by now; that sort of thing's right up their street.

GEORGE: Especially when those such as Mr (UNCLEAR) will tell you that Jack Grealish really doesn't do enough on a football pitch; so I think you've got to highlight the times when he does do something that leads to a goal, even if it won't show up in the goals or assists column.

ALI: Point about that actually, I was gonna bring it up later. I've been scouring InStat - I feel like given that we have a subscription with it, it's probably worth contributing a little bit more to the podcast - so I was just scanning through some individual player stats for the season so far. On Jack Grealish, I think it's accepted that he's not playing quite as well this season as he did in the second half of last season. I did notice two stats that you'll like; dribbles in the Championship - Grealish has completed the most dribbles, and out of the top 20 quite clearly the best success percentage as well - 67% of his dribbles he completes, which is sensational. (UNCLEAR), for example, on 47%, so you might think those two guys are pretty similar when it comes to dribbling, but it's not the case really. Joe Lolley at 66%, also very good; but also fouls suffered, this is the big one. Jack Grealish, first in the Championship with 60. (UNCLEAR)'Lightner' second with 34. The drop off there; I mean, it's almost double, it's quite remarkable. So Grealish looking like he might enjoy playing under Dean Smith.

GEORGE: And that is in itself a skill; it's easy just to think it's one of those pointless stats, fouls suffered, but- 

ALI: Of course it's a skill!

GEORGE: But just in terms of sheer positional play and where you pick up the ball in the pitch, Jack Grealish plays a certain position; which means that of those 60 fouls, you can be pretty sure that a high proportion of them will be in dangerous areas. 

ALI: And with John McGinn and Conor Hourihane swinging the balls in!

GEORGE: Exactly; Grealish looked great again, and and I have a feeling he's gonna- Dean Smith said so in his press conference. He said he thought he could take Grealish to another level, and I'll be pretty excited if I see that. 

ALI: Yeah, we got a few tweets. Hugo was there, said 'Grealish back in the middle, which was good to see', although 7500 to Holte said that he was dropping deeper; so playing more centrally but coming from deep, which is something that we saw him do very well last season. The wingers played much higher up the pitch, although I did notice it was still Elmohamady and Adomah; so just for the moment Smith keeping the more attacking wingers Bolasie and El Ghazi sheathed, if you will. John McGinn; the star man, I think it was really, and that's backed up by what these guys said. The players noticeably, 10 to 15 yards further upfield; so a more proactive performance from Villa that's what the fans wanted to see. Although having said all of that - and you highlighted it - they have a lot to thank the goalkeeper Nyland for, he made some excellent saves; as did Nordfeldt in the Swansea goal. A word on Tammy Abraham; do you think he might really thrive under Dean Smith? He's got four goals in his last seven.

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