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Jack's back, match tonight and three is the magic number

Football today is different in many ways to what it was like 100 years ago. In some ways thought, it hasn't changed. For example, had you offered Billy Walker three times his money 100 years ago, he would have probably left, but maybe only for that reason and because the money in the game wasn't what it is today.

Jack didn't leave just for the money though, although I'm sure it played a big part. He left because he wants to be part of a side that wins silverware. And even though Man City are going to win something this season, with or without Jack, and that silverware isn't going to taste so sweet when his career is over, he still wants to win it now.


Football isn't what it was because these days in football, if you want something and you can, you buy it. When Billy Walker played, football was different because it wasn't all about money or instant gratification.

But Jack wont be regretting his move today, although I suspect there are a few that already recognise the traits of a player that left thinking the grass was greener. Don't get me wrong, Jack is a talent and at Aston Villa he was our talisman, but at Manchester City, he's average and if you were to ask 100 Man City fans today who they would rather have start, most would have one or two players ahead of Jack at the moment.

However, Man City don't want everyone to know that Jack isn't up to it, so he's injured and they're going to be saying nothing but positive things. It's as much about getting his head in the right place as it is anything else. They need to let Jack shine on the stages where Jack can shine, so maybe he will play tonight.

Maybe, Jack would have shone with Gerrard too, but I'm not so sure Gerrard would sign Jack back, even at the £75mn we could probably get him back for today. And while Jack wouldn't want to come back as it might look like failure, I suspect it would be best for him and his social media team could easily spin it.

But this post is about Man City at Villa Park tonight and that is where I should concentrate my effort but I should say also that I deleted quite a lot from the above, but when I started I couldn't stop. And naturally, because I wrote the above, Jack will play tonight and he'll score three. But I should also say, finally on the topic of Jack, that I'd love him back at Villa Park and I think him coming back, tail between his legs, wouldn't be a sign of failure, but maturity.

Match facts from the BBC

Head-to-head

  • Manchester City have won the past seven meetings in all competitions, scoring 23 goals and conceding only three.
  • A 0-0 league draw at Villa Park in November 2015 is the only time City have failed to win in 11 meetings since a 3-2 top-flight away defeat in 2013.

Aston Villa

  • Steven Gerrard could become the first manager to win his opening three top-flight games in charge of Aston Villa.
  • No Villa manager has remained unbeaten in his first three top-flight fixtures since Alex McLeish started with two wins and five draws in 2011.
  • Villa can win three consecutive league matches for the first time since they began last season with four straight victories.
  • They are vying to beat the reigning league champions in consecutive seasons at Villa Park for the first time since 1975-76 and 1976-77.
  • The West Midlands side have scored 14 of their 18 Premier League goals this season in the second half, including six from the 82nd minute onwards.
  • John McGinn has already equalled his final goal tally of three in each of his two previous Premier League seasons.

Manchester City

  • Manchester City are on a five-match winning streak in all competitions.
  • They need one win to equal their top-flight club record of 30 in a calendar year, set in both 2017 and 2019.
  • City have lost 26% of their Premier League games in December - eight of 31 - under Pep Guardiola. It's their worst record in any month of a standard season.
  • However, they're on a run of 15 successive league victories in matches played on a Wednesday since a 2-1 defeat at Leicester City on Boxing Day 2018.
  • Raheem Sterling is two goals short of becoming the 32nd player to score 100 Premier League goals.
  • Jack Grealish scored 32 goals and provided 43 assists in 213 appearances for Aston Villa.

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