Jack Grealish admits he has become a marked man after taking the Premier League by storm.
The Aston Villa skipper and attacking ace has been acclaimed as a player of the year contender in the top-flight.
It follows his stunning form for club and country after finally breaking into the England set-up.
He will look to add to his haul of six goals and 10 League assists on Sunday when Leicester visit.
But Grealish admits he has found Villa's last three games “most difficult” amid intense opposition attention against West Ham, Arsenal and Brighton.
The star,25, who usually plays on the left, had to switch flanks in the 3-1 home loss to the Hammers when he was double marked for the first time this season.
He also found fewer opportunities in the 1-0 win over the Gunners before last weekend's goalless draw at Brighton.
Grealish admitted: “If I am honest the last three games have probably been the most difficult.
“Only because I feel, especially in the West Ham and Brighton games – and a little bit in the Arsenal game – the opposition teams are set up to stop me.
“They have doubled up on me massively and followed every movement I do.
“But that is down to me.
“That happens to the good players all over the world and it is up to the good players to do something different.
“I felt in the West Ham game, Vladimir Coufal was following me everywhere and Ryan Fredericks was helping him.
“I moved on to the other side of the pitch and got an assist.
“Against Arsenal and Brighton I didn’t do that but it is something I will look to do if that happens in the future.
“I’ve a good enough football brain to be able to adapt with that.”
Grealish's form last term made him a close season transfer target for Manchester United after he inspired Villa to a dramatic last-day survival.
He then signed a new five-year £130,000-a-week deal with his boyhood team after United refused to meet his £80million price tag.
United remain keen on the star though along with neighbours Manchester City who look set to both bid for the in-demand ace this summer.
Grealish reflected: “I knew if I played to the best of my ability I could perform to this level.
“It is not an arrogance at all.
“It is just a self belief that I have always had.
“I know if I work hard and do everything right on and off the pitch that this is the sort of season I can have.”
Grealish's dedication has seen the star putting in the hard graft in his home gym.
The facilities came in useful earlier this year when Villa were put into self isolation after a coronavirus outbreak.
Grealish said: “Luckily I have a gym now in my house and I was in there most of the time on the treadmill, bike and doing my own work.”
But Grealish has not been the only player to star for Villa as the likes of keeper Emiliano Martinez, midfielder Douglas Luiz, defender Ezri Konsa and striker Ollie Watkins have all excelled too.
Now Dean Smith's men, who are eighth, want to finish in the top half of the table ahead of a run of games against Leicester, Leeds and Wolves.
Grealish assessed: “It’s been a better season than we expected.
“In our heads, we’re all looking at finishing as high as possible.
“Whether that be tenth, ninth, eighth, seventh – that’s where we should be aiming now in my opinion.
“We’re in a good place, we still have a few games in hand, but we have a few sticky games coming up now which will obviously be tough.”
Source: Read Full Article