Jack Grealish returns to Premier League action hoping to better his favourite year in football to date.
The Aston Villa midfielder turned 24 during the international break and was able to reflect upon 12 months during which his career passed several milestones.
He told the club’s official website: “It’s been my favourite year yet. I scored against Blues (Birmingham), got given the armband, ended up getting promoted and playing in the Premier League.
“I’m hoping for another positive year ahead, even though I don’t look too far ahead. I try to take things as they come.”
Grealish will hope to launch another positive year when West Ham head for the Midlands on Monday evening, and a change in the club’s recent fortunes might help.
Villa lost their opening Premier League fixture at Tottenham 3-1 after reaching the 86th minute at 1-1, and were then made to pay for errors against Bournemouth before opening their top-flight account with victory over Everton.
However, they were aggrieved to lose by the only goal at Crystal Palace last time out when, after midfielder Trezeguet had been dismissed, a late Henri Lansbury equaliser was controversially chalked off by referee Kevin Friend after he ruled that Grealish had dived during the build-up.
Grealish said: “For us as a team, it’s been a long break waiting to get back to it.
“We’re sitting here on three points out of four games. We should definitely have a few more. We’ve dropped points where we could have come away with them.
“But that’s the Premier League for you. Let’s hope for a few more ups this month.”
Manager Dean Smith is confident there is more to come from his promoted side, but has demanded greater consistency.
He said: “I feel we can improve. We held Tottenham until the 86th minute; you can look back and say two individual errors have cost us against Bournemouth; then we beat Everton.
“Against Palace, if Trez hadn’t got sent off, there’s not a chance we’d have lost the game – and with what happened at the end, we shouldn’t have lost it anyway.
“So we’re tough to beat, but we haven’t played as well as we can. There’s a lot more to come. We have shown glimpses of what we can do. But we need to be more consistent in the domination part of our game.”
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