Paul Merson: Why Aston Villa's Jack Grealish reminds me of Jack Wilshere

The former Villa and Arsenal midfielder believes the teenager has the same kind of confidence which helped make Wilshere a Premier League star at a similar age.

Former Aston Villa midfielder and now Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson believes Jack Grealish will have no problems dealing with the high expectations for him this season due to his immense confidence.

Merson was speaking on Soccer Saturday ahead of Villa’s 2-1 defeat at Crystal Palace, in which Grealish made his first appearance of the Premier League campaign after recovering from the hamstring strain he suffered at the start of the team’s pre-season training camp in Portugal.

The 19-year-old playmaker was ultimately unable to inspire his boyhood club to a positive result due to Jordan Amavi’s late goal-costing blunder but he still stood out as their star man, pulling the strings from the tip of the midfield diamond with his precise passing and movement in the attacking third.

After bursting onto the scene during last season’s run-in, the claret and blue faithful are hoping for the hometown hero to establish himself as the creative focal point of Tim Sherwood’s side this term and, while some might wilt under such pressure, Merson insists that Grealish will relish the challenge.

The ex-Arsenal man has even likened him to Gunners and England midfielder Jack Wilshere in that respect, declaring: “I think he’ll be alright. He’s a confident lad.

“He reminds of Jack Wilshere. He’s the type of player who thinks, ‘I should be in the team. I should be captain, let alone playing.’

“I think that’s a good thing. Some might think it’s a bit Jack the Lad-ish but you need that bit of confidence. If you want to play in the Premier League, you need to go on that pitch and think you should be there, and he does.

“He’s a good player and what he does for them is gets on the ball and tries to make things happen. He’s the one player who’s got that little bit of guile and something unusual, but they have to get him further up the pitch.”

 2014-15 Premier League PositionTeamGoalsTotal ShotsShooting AccuracyAssistsTotal Key PassesTotal DribblesDribble AccuracyPassing AccuracyAppearancesMins Played
Jack Grealish MF Aston Villa 0 13 38% 1 18 29 74.19% 93% 17 815

Handed his full Premier League debut last April in Villa’s 3-3 home draw with Queens Park Rangers, Grealish went on to start all nine remain games of the season under Sherwood’s guidance and earned rave reviews for his role in helping the club avoid the drop.

He made the front pages of the tabloids for the wrong reason back in June, having been snapped in Tenerife looking somewhat worse for wear, but his manager has since backed him “100 per cent” and labelled him a “one-off talent”.

Judging by his performance on Saturday, his summer antics certainly have not affected his on-field product and, given that confidence which the likes of Merson have spoken of, few would bet against him making an even bigger impact on the top-flight this term.

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch