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Dean Smith expects Aston Villa to react strongly from Leeds defeat

Aston Villa v Leeds United – Premier League – Villa Park
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith is confident his players have the character to bounce back from their humbling against Leeds.

Villa have made their best start to a season since 1930 and last week at home against Leeds were chasing a piece of club history, having never won their opening five league games of a season.

Maintaining their 100 per cent record would have also seen Smith’s side go top of the Premier League table for first time since October 2001. It was not to be though, as Villa were comfortably beaten 3-0 as Patrick Bamford scored a 20-minute hat-trick.

Smith is expecting a reaction when his team return to action against Southampton at Villa Park on Sunday.

“There was no getting high and no getting low. We haven’t been too high after the four straight wins at the start of the season and we won’t get too low over a poor 40 minutes,” said Smith.

“We’re not at a level Manchester City or Liverpool are at by any means, so we’re going to lose games. Up until (Leeds) scored the goal we had the better chances. We’ve had a poor 40 minutes this season so far and I’ll certainly take that after the first five games.

“I’ve got a good idea of how these players will react because I’ve been with them for a long time now. I know their character.

“They were disappointed that we went away from our game plan against Leeds. It’s just about getting back on the pitch and performing.

“I’m sure our players would have liked a game a lot sooner to put it right, but we’ve managed to have eight days to rectify mistakes and work on a tactical plan for Southampton.”

Villa did not pass the 12-point mark until the 13th game of last season, when they avoided relegation by a single point thanks to a draw at West Ham on the final day.

A point against Saints would take Villa on to 13 points already this time round, and Smith said: “It’s about improvement. Last season was always going to be tough bringing in 13 new players. Survival was the aim last season.

“Nobody at the football club was happy finishing 17th. Our ambition is to improve on last season. We’ve had a good start but there’s a lot of realism around the football club and it’s small steps at a time.”

Smith has an unchanged squad for Sunday’s game. Bertrand Traore, Ahmed Elmohamad and Conor Hourihane are available as options if Smith wants to freshen up his starting lineup.