Dean Smith takes positives from Aston Villa defeat with focus on Southampton

Smith saw ‘passion, enthusiasm, energy and some quality’ despite Villa’s 4-1 loss.
Dean Smith takes positives from Aston Villa defeat with focus on Southampton

By Sean Taylor, PA

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith believes there are positives to take from the defeat to West Ham as he prepares his side for Friday’s Premier League trip to Southampton.

It appeared that everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Villa on Sunday as they slipped to a fourth-successive Premier League defeat.

Despite the 4-1 loss – not helped by Ezri Konsa’s red card early in the second half with the score at 2-1 – Smith felt he got some sort of response following the defeat at Arsenal, which during the first half arguably saw the worst 45 minutes under his tenure.

Villa head to St Mary’s on Friday night looking to avoid a fifth-straight league defeat, something that has not happened since early 2017 when the club was in the Championship.

“I would disagree that there are lots of negatives,” said Smith. “The negative is the scoreline, the negative is the manner of some of the goals we have given away, but there were parts of our play that certainly pleased me and the response from Arsenal.

“I wasn’t particularly pleased with the start, then we had to make an early change with the injury (Jacob Ramsey). But I thought we grew into the game and both the players and fans responded.

“There was a response to the Arsenal game in stages.

“I feel after the third goal, you’ve got to take 3-1 on the chin.

“You’re not going to get back with 10 men. We’re playing against a team that is doing very well at the moment – so I thought the fourth goal was sloppy to concede.

“Overall, I saw what I wanted to see from the players. I saw them playing with passion, enthusiasm, energy and some quality as well.

“What concerns me is turning performances around and getting results and I saw an awful lot of character from my players.”

Meanwhile, West Ham travel to Genk in the Europa League this week.

Historically, many Premier League teams have struggled with the rigours of playing Thursday night and then Sunday, but that is not the case for David Moyes’ side.

The Hammers are fourth in the league table, through to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup and on the brink of qualification in Europe.

Asked about coping well with the schedule, Moyes said: “I hope that’s the case.

“We’ve only played three Thursday games at the moment and we have three to go, another one this week. But I do feel we are trying to use the squad as well as we can.

“Sometimes maybe we get it wrong but we are trying to use it the best we can and give everyone an opportunity.

“I think we have a lot of players who are quite a similar level and can easily be in the team and I need them to stand up and be counted and I think they have done, whether it be the cup or the European games.

“We will have injuries and suspension and everyone has to be ready to play.

“I’m really pleased with the players, they are doing a remarkable job. We have really high standards at the moment and we are trying to keep doing the right things.”

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