Can Jack Grealish Play Right Wing? A Positional Analysis

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If you are anything like me, when you think of Jack Grealish you picture him flying down the left wing, ball close to his feet, drawing players in to make a challenge before skipping past them or getting fouled.

You might forget though it was way back in March 2012 he appeared on a Premier League teamsheet for the first time as a 16-year-old.

And he has played a lot of football since then.

But how much has been on the left wing? Can he in fact play on the right wing, or as a striker?

We are going to be doing a positional analysis of the England star in our blog today. 

So let’s get started.

Can Jack Grealish Play Right Wing?

Of Jack Grealish’s appearances that have been positionally recorded, he has played on the right-hand side of the pitch 17 times. This is far fewer than his 142 appearances on the left-hand side of the pitch, but enough to prove he can play on the right wing, as he is actually right footed. He has also played as a ‘false nine’ under Pep Guardiola, so we are safe to say he can play as a striker too.

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Jack Grealish: A Season By Season Positional Analysis

I thought the best way to approach the question of whether Jack Grealish can play right wing, or any other position for that matter was to analyse, season by season, where he has played.

Thankfully due to the excellent Transfermarkt website I am able to do that.

2011/12 Season

  • Attacking Midfield: 1 appearance
  • Right Wing: 1 appearance
  • Central Midfield: 1 appearance

This was Jack Grealish’s first season playing competitive men’s football, he spent the majority of it playing for Aston Villa in the Premier Reserve League, but did make the bench for a Premier League game.

That was Villa’s 4-2 home defeat to Chelsea on 31 March 2012, at the time Grealish was just 16 years, 6 months and 21 days old.

This season Grealish made 11 appearances in the Premier Reserve League and five appearances for the Republic of Ireland’s under-17 team.

Positional information is limited for this season hence the lack of data.

2012/13 Season

  • Left Wing: 5 appearances
  • Left Midfield: 3 appearances
  • Right Wing: 1 appearance
  • Attacking Midfield: 1 appearance
  • Central Midfield: 1 appearance

This season Jack Grealish made five appearances in Premier League 2, and eight appearances in the Premier League U21 qualification group. He also appeared twice for Ireland under 18s.

As you can see he was very much establishing himself on the left-hand side of the teams he played in, whether that was as a left midfielder or pushed slightly further forward as a left winger.

2013/14 Season

  • Left Wing: 15 appearances
  • Attacking Midfield: 8 appearances
  • Right Midfield: 6 appearances
  • Right Wing: 5 appearances
  • Central Midfield: 1 appearance
  • Left Back: 1 appearance
  • Left Midfield: 1 appearance

This could be called Jack Grealish’s breakthrough season. 

He made his Premier League debut at the end of the season, coming on as a substitute for the last two minutes of the game against Manchester City on 7 May 2014, and before that he enjoyed a season on loan at Notts County in League One.

He also made six appearances for the Republic of Ireland under-21 team.

Grealish actually did spend a lot of time playing on the right-hand side of the pitch. In total 11 of the 37 appearances we have data for show him playing right midfield or right wing, with 17 appearances playing on the left-hand side of the pitch including a sole showing at left back in the FA Cup against Hartlepool.

He was also being put to increasing use as an attacking midfielder just behind the strikers, playing in that position eight times.

2014/15 Season

  • Left Wing: 20 appearances.
  • Attacking Midfield: 4 appearances.
  • Left Midfield: 2 appearances.
  • Right Wing: 1 appearance.

By the end of the 2014/15 season, Jack Grealish had established himself in Aston Villa’s first team, being involved in the club’s last seven games of the season and making a total of 17 Premier League appearances.

He also appeared in all six games including the Final of the FA Cup, when Villa were beaten 4-0 by Arsenal.

Twenty of his 27 recorded appearances were as a left-winger.

2015/16 Season

  • Attacking Midfield: 14 appearances
  • Left Wing: 7 appearances
  • Central Midfield: 1 appearance
  • Right Wing: 1 appearance

Jack Grealish was by now becoming a first-choice pick for Aston Villa, although he missed a number of games this season due to injuries and illness. Grealish did score his first Villa goal against Leicester on 13 September 2015.

It was also at the start of this season that Grealish declared he intended to play for England rather than the Republic of Ireland and made his debut for England Under-21s.

He was used mainly as an attacking midfielder this season, appearing 14 times in the position and a further seven times as a left winger.

Unfortunately, he set an unwanted Premier League record, the 16 games he played all ended in defeat as Aston Villa were relegated.

2016/17 Season

  • Attacking Midfield: 21 appearances
  • Left Wing: 9 appearances
  • Central Midfield: 2 appearances
  • Left Midfield: 1 appearance

With Aston Villa now in the Championship, Jack Grealish continued to be used primarily as an attacking midfielder where he made 21 appearances.

He also appeared on the left wing nine times as Villa fought unsuccessfully to get out of the Championship.

2017/18 Season

  • Attacking Midfield: 33 appearances
  • Left Wing: 1 appearance

After missing the opening three months of the season with kidney problems, Jack Grealish played a pivotal role in propelling Aston Villa to the Play-Off Final this season, which they lost to Fulham.

All but one of Grealish’s appearances came as an attacking midfielder this season, the sole exception being an outing on the left-wing against Millwall in December 2017.

2018/19 Season

  • Attacking Midfield: 29 appearances
  • Central Midfield: 2 appearances
  • Left Wing: 2 appearances
  • Left Midfield: 1 appearance
  • Right Wing: 1 appearance

Villa finally made it out of the Championship in the 2018/19 season, returning to the Play-Off Final where they beat Derby 2-1.

By now Grealish was captain of the team and playing some of the best football of his career, including scoring 4 goals in a run of nine successive victories toward the end of the season.

Again this season Grealish was used almost exclusively as an attacking midfield, but did also appear on the right side of the pitch for the first time since 2015.

2019/20 Season

  • Left Wing: 26 appearances
  • Central Midfield: 7 appearances
  • Attacking Midfield: 6 appearances
  • Left Midfield: 1 appearance
  • Second Striker: 1 appearance

Jack Grealish got a career-best eight league goals as he captained Aston Villa on their return to the Premier League.

He was also fouled 167 times across the season, the most fouls won by a Premier League player in a single campaign.

As Villa changed formation he featured 26 times as a left winger, and then a further 13 times as either a central midfielder or an attacking midfielder.

He also made a sole appearance as a second striker in a home game against Manchester City. It is fair to say the experiment wasn’t a good one, Villa lost 6-1!

2020/21 Season

  • Left Wing: 19 appearances
  • Attacking Midfield: 8 appearances

At the start of the 2020/21 season, Grealish made his debut for England, coming on as an attacking midfielder to play the last 14 minutes against Denmark on 8 September 2020.

For both Aston Villa and England Grealish split his time between a left-wing and an attacking midfield role.

He continued as Aston Villa’s captain, and his appearance on 23 May 2021 against Chelsea would be his last for the club.

2021/22 Season

  • Left Wing: 28 appearances
  • Centre-Forward: 5 appearances
  • Attacking Midfield: 4 appearances
  • Right Wing: 1 appearance

A new club meant a new position for Jack Grealish. Whilst he played the majority of his inaugural season for Manchester City at left-wing he was also deployed on five occasions as a centre-forward.

In all reality Grealish was playing more in a false nine position, as the club rotated the forward line following the departure of Sergio Aguero.

He played in a very fluid midfield and forward line as players like Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva and Grealish switched positions frequently.

In the 2022 World Cup for England he came off the bench on five occasions, each time to play on the left wing.

Total Appearances By Position

  • Left Wing: 132 appearances
  • Attacking Midfield: 129 appearances
  • Central Midfield: 15 appearances
  • Right Wing: 11 appearances
  • Left Midfield: 9 appearances
  • Right Midfield: 6 appearances
  • Centre-Forward: 5 appearances
  • Left Back: 1 appearance
  • Second Striker: 1 appearance

By Pitch Area:

  • Centre of pitch: 150 appearances
  • Left-hand side of pitch: 142 appearances
  • Right-hand side of pitch: 17 appearances

*Details correct until end of 2021/22 season.

Final Thoughts

INFOGRAPHIC Answering the Question Can Jack Grealish Play Right Wing
Click infographic to enlarge.

So let’s clear a few things up.

  • Can Jack Grealish play right wing?
    Yes, he can and has, but it is not a position he has played regularly.
  • Can Jack Grealish play as a striker?
    Again he can, and has done for Manchester City on a few occasions.

For a player who has played so many games on the left-hand side, Jack Grealish isn’t left footed. The position gives him the opportunity to cut inside onto his stronger right foot.

As for Grealish himself, well in an interview on the official Manchester City website he admitted his favorite position was either on the left wing, or as an attacking midfielder, the two positions he has occupied most often.

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