“A special talent and he’s got the world at his feet.”
That’s how Republic of Ireland U21 international Jack Grealish is described by his Aston Villa team-mate Ashley Westwood.
On Saturday, Grealish gets another chance to showcase his talents on the big stage as Villa look to upset holders Arsenal in the FA Cup final.
Westwood believes Grealish, who starred in the semi-final victory over Liverpool, could prove Villa’s match-winner at Wembley.
“He’s a special talent, the way he just glides past you in training, you feel like whacking him, he floats past you with his hair,” Westwood said. “He’s a great lad, I’m sure he could be our match winner at the end of the day.
“He’s a Villa fan, Villa through and through, he said he used to stand on the Holte End. To have a fan in your team, that’s what you’d want on FA Cup final day. But he does need to forget he’s a fan, he’s a professional player now.
“In training, as soon as you saw him, you knew he had something. On that FA Cup semi-final the whole world was watching him, and I thought he was man of the match.
“He believes in his ability and so he should, he’s a special talent and he’s got the world at his feet. If he can keep playing like that, he can go anywhere.”
Westwood also feels Arsenal should be having sleepless nights before facing Christian Benteke.
Benteke has 12 goals in his last 12 games heading into the Wembley showdown, including one in their 2-1 semi-final win over Liverpool in April to fire Villa into their first FA Cup final for 15 years. And Westwood believes Benteke has his fear factor back after struggling for form and fitness before Tim Sherwood’s arrival, following an Achilles injury over a year ago.
He said: “I think he’s back to full fitness now, he was struggling with his Achilles early on and people didn’t see that, they just expected him to walk back in and fire in the goals.
“But he’s back to his best now, bullying defenders and I’m sure they’ll have sleepless nights, they won’t want to be playing against him.
“We know how good we are, if we play like we can do we can match anyone. We’ve got internationals throughout the team, Fabs (Fabian Delph) and Clevs (Tom Cleverley) are on form, Christian is a real handful for anyone, I’m sure they’ll be having sleepless nights about him.”
Meanwhile, Alexis Sanchez’s impressive first year at Arsenal has been recognised by two different supporters’ awards.
The 26-year-old has slotted in seamlessly since swapping Barcelona for the Emirates Stadium last summer in a deal worth £35 million (€49 million).
Sanchez has netted 16 goals and provided eight more in his first Premier League season — form which has been recognised by fans.
The Chile international was named as PFA Fans’ Player of the Season on Tuesday afternoon, beating Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero to the accolade.
Sanchez soon had another trophy to add to his cabinet after being announced as Player of the Year at the inaugural Facebook Football Awards.
More than one million votes were cast across the globe, with the Arsenal forward taking the award ahead of Hazard and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea. Tottenham’s Harry Kane was named Young Player of the Year at the Facebook Football Awards, while Arsene Wenger was voted best manager and Arsenal were chosen as best club in what was a suspiciously north London-heavy vote.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved