Jack Grealish admits adapting to Manchester City's style of play has been "much more difficult" than he imagined it would be.
Having joined City for a Premier League record £100million fee in 2021, Grealish has largely struggled to replicate the displays he produced for Aston Villa, though he made a decisive impact in Thursday's 1-0 win at Chelsea.
Grealish's fine ball across the six-yard box teed up Riyad Mahrez for City's winner just three minutes and 43 seconds after the pair were introduced as second-half substitutes.
That represented Grealish's third assist in his last three Premier League games – the same amount as he managed in his first 34 league appearances for City, and the England international acknowledges he struggled on his arrival at the Etihad Stadium.
"When I came here, I'll be honest with you, it was so much more difficult than I thought," Grealish told Sky Sports.
"In my head I thought I was going to the team sitting top of the league and I was going to get so many goals and assists and obviously it isn't the case.
"A lot of teams tend to sit in against us and that wasn't the case at Villa.
"[Former Villa boss] Dean Smith would tell me to go and find the weak link in the defence, whether that was on the right, the middle or whether I wanted to hug the touchline, and at Villa, I always had an overlapping full-back.
"I came to City, having been at Villa my whole life, and I've never had to change [before]. I've always been used to that. I didn't realise how hard it is to adapt to a different team and manager."
City's victory at Stamford Bridge was their fourth in a row against Chelsea in all competitions, and Grealish believes the Blues' willingness to attack the champions played into their hands.
"We've had games this season – against Everton and Brentford recently for example – where they've had a back five and they've sat in against us," Grealish said.
"Against a back four today it just felt so much more open, and we were desperate to come on."
9 - Since he joined Man City in 2018, Riyad Mahrez has scored more Premier League goals as a substitute than any other player (9). He scored his goal, assisted by Jack Grealish, just 3 minutes and 43 seconds after both players had been subbed on. Impact. pic.twitter.com/RL80MCKI8W— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 5, 2023