Aston Villa urged to become as hard to beat as Sheffield United

Dean Smith is adamant it is “not all doom and gloom” at Aston Villa despite a run of results that have left the club hovering above the Premier League’s bottom three.

Aston Villa's manager Dean Smith gives instructions to Jack Grealish. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA
Aston Villa's manager Dean Smith gives instructions to Jack Grealish. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

Villa have taken just four points from the last 21 on offer, suffering five defeats along the way albeit against sides in the top six in Liverpool, Leicester, Manchester City, Chelsea and Wolverhampton.

Manager Smith concedes the 4-1 loss at home to Leicester last time out “probably knocked the lads back a bit”, although he is confident that has been addressed following a debrief on Tuesday.

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“We reflected on it, we reviewed it, and we spoke about what’s expected, and for me, there was a lot of frustration shown with the players,” said Smith.

“But then I reminded them that two games prior to that everything was rosy after we comfortably beat Newcastle (2-0) at Villa Park and drew 2-2 at Manchester United, a game we should have won.

“So it’s not all doom and gloom. Sometimes you have to put it all into a bit of perspective and we’ve certainly done that.

“There are lot of things we’ve learned from the last two performances and results against Chelsea and Leicester. We are learning all the time in this league, so what we have to do now is progress.”

Although Smith claims he is unconcerned at his team’s position in the league, he is aware Villa have to tighten up at the back after keeping just one clean sheet in the last 11 league matches, and three overall this season.

Holding up the Blades as a shining example of what can be achieved, Smith added: “They’ve become a lot harder to beat than we have and that’s the one area where I feel we need to improve on.”

Smith’s defensive concerns are added to with centre-back Tyrone Mings missing the trip to Bramall Lane with a hamstring injury.