Pep Guardiola's faith in Jack Grealish is starting to pay off
Grealish may have delivered his biggest performance for City yet.
On a night full of apprehension and tension, Jack Grealish remained the calmest person inside the Emirates Stadium as he slotted home - albeit with the help of a slight deflection from Takehiro Tomiyasu - to put Manchester City ahead and play a pivotal role in taking City above Arsenal in the Premier League.
Look at those limbs in the away end 💉 pic.twitter.com/5GxWEQ3ekN
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) February 15, 2023
It was probably Grealish's most significant moment since joining City and the biggest indicator that Pep Guardiola's faith in the England international is starting to pay off.
His £100m arrival in the summer of 2021 was a cause for excitement. As one of the shining lights in an otherwise underwhelming Aston Villa sign, seeing one of England's most exciting players working under one of the best managers in the world made for a frightening prospect.
But, with any price tag that astronomical, it weighed the midfielder down and he soon found himself struggling to make an impact at the Etihad Stadium.
Even by his own admission in the past, the 27-year-old has found life at the winning machine harder than expected.
After coming off the bench to set up the winner in a 1-0 victory against Chelsea in January, he said: "When I came here, I'll be honest with you, it was so much more difficult than I thought.
"In my head I thought I was going to the team sitting top of the league and I was going to get so many goals and assists and obviously it isn't the case. A lot of teams tend to sit in against us and that wasn't the case at Villa.
"I came into City, having been at Villa my whole life, and I've never had to change. I've always been used to that. I didn't realise how hard it is to adapt to a different team and manager."
Grealish's transition from being the one everybody relied on to being one of the cogs in an already-well-functioning machine saw his importance to the team change drastically.
Instead of being given creative freedom, he was now there with players as good - if not better - as him and was expected to work as part of that machine.
It's worth noting that Grealish has never topped the charts for goals and assists. His career-best seasons was 10 goals and eight assists in the 2019/20 season. This season, he has only three goals and three assists for City.
Despite the many calls for him to be dropped - even sold on some occasions - Guardiola has remained loyal and has defended him, giving him the love and belief which has now brought back the player neutrals and fans alike loved watching back when he was at Villa.
There's still a long way to go but if recent weeks are anything to show, Grealish is finally starting to live up to the fee Man City paid for him.
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