If West Ham want to get anything from their trip to Aston Villa on Wednesday night they’ll have to do a job on creative force Jack Grealish.
Grealish, 25, has scored six goals and supplied 11 assists in 19 Premier League appearances this season for the Villans and stats by Wyscout show the Birmingham-born ace ranks second in Europe’s top five leagues for xA (expected assist) this season [7.9].
In the Premier League, no player has completed more key passes  and deep completions  than Grealish and only Wolves’ Adama Traore  has attempted more one-versus-one dribbles than him .
West Ham’s defensive unit will have to be on their game in order to keep Grealish quiet on Wednesday at Villa Park – but how do they manage that?
Grealish has failed to score or assist in nine of his 19 Premier League appearances this season and was particularly quiet in defeats to Leeds and Brighton as well as a draw against Chelsea.
Clearly, they are not the best of teams in the Premier League this season so there is an opportunity for a team like West Ham to contain the 25-year-old’s talent.
Leeds, who won 3-0 at Aston Villa earlier in the season, showcased the best way to keep Grealish quiet and that is by tightly marking and doubling up on the Villans playmaker.
As you can see below, Aston Villa are attacking and Grealish is inside the penalty area. You can see how tightly Stuart Dallas is making the Villa ace as he shows for the ball.
As the pass is made to Grealish, Dallas doesn’t give him a chance to control the ball on his own terms and sticks a foot in to keep him away from goal.
Grealish wrestles control of the ball but has his back to the goal and that allows Rodrigo to come in and apply pressure.
Rodrigo, not known for his defensive work, comes in and wins the ball off Grealish to nullify the Villa attack.
It will take quiet a lot of effort for West Ham to keep Grealish quiet without also compromising their ability to attack.
Earlier in the season, we saw Moyes play with a back-three with two wing-backs and that could be a helpful way of crowding out the England international.
However, with Craig Dawson, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek in amazing form, it might not be too hard for Moyes to keep a handle on Grealish without changing his system too much.
In other West Ham news, here’s our predicted line-up for the trip to Villa.