The return of Jack Grealish leaves Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce with a decision to make at center forward.
Jack Grealish made his return from injury on Tuesday, playing the final 33 minutes in a 3-0 victory over Sunderland. His absence alongside Albert Adomah created a lineup headache for Steve Bruce, who largely relied upon the same starting XI throughout the early months of 2018.
Grealish will start in the attacking midfield position, flanked by Adomah to his left, against Wolves this coming Saturday.
The real lineup conundrum for Steve Bruce might just be who to select at center forward.
Lewis Grabban and Scott Hogan are trending in entirely different directions in recent weeks, at least in terms of goals scored. Hogan, nominated for EFL Championship Player of the Month for his blistering January record, has since gone cold, failing to score in five starts running. Grabban, on the other hand, was the savior against Preston for the equalizing second-half penalty in a 1-1 draw. He followed with goals against Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland, to make it three in three matches.
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Following conventional wisdom, it seems likely, then, that Grabban would displace Hogan at center forward, even after the former enjoyed a spell at right midfield and second striker. But the truth is often more complicated. Hogan, during his time at Aston Villa, has shown he needs creators in order to score in abundance. Creators like Grealish and his ability to drive from the center of midfield.
With Grealish, Adomah and Robert Snodgrass all in the fold, Hogan might just be the better fit stylistically for Steve Bruce
One striker sets traditionally eat up three center back formations, the system typically deployed by Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo. Can either Grabban or Hogan compete with the physicality of Romain Saïss (6’3″), Wily Boly (6’3″) and Conor Coady? (6’1″)
That remains the question leading up to Saturday. My guess? Bruce elects to go with the hot hand, or foot I suppose, of Grabban, but it could go either way.