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Villa manager Smith refuses to give Manchester City an easy victory

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith insists he will never give Manchester City an easy checkmate.

Struggling Villa host the champions on Sunday just a point above the Premier League relegation zone.

They are also without a fit senior striker with Jonathan Kodjia ill and Wesley out for the season with a knee injury.

But Smith will refuse to let Pep Guardiola have a walkover at Villa Park.

“You are always having a constant game of chess with them – obviously Pep is a better chess player than I am at the moment,” he said.

“So I’m looking forward to the game but I certainly won’t be knocking my king over.

“It’s very difficult because they are a top team. If you are spending £50-odd million for a right-back it shows the top class team they have in every position.

“But it should also be an opportunity for the players to test themselves against the best. I felt when we went there earlier in the season (losing 3-0) there was a belief in the dressing room we could do something.

“Coming in at 0-0 at half-time was a good performance but you can make a silly mistake and concede very quickly against these top teams. We have to make sure we are not making these silly mistakes.”

City sit third, trailing leaders Liverpool by 14 points, and have lost almost as many games this season, five, as in the past two campaigns.

But Smith – who could hand a debut to Chelsea loanee Danny Drinkwater – insisted while Guardiola’s side are hurting they are more dangerous.

He said: “It probably makes it worse that they’ve got to win every game. Their mentality, whatever game they go into is to win.

“Mine’s the same – you’ve got to try to win football games. It’s the style I see from Manchester City that I love watching.

“His teams are always trying to create overloads. If you try to block the middle of the pitch and they’ll try and create overloads on the outside. Try to block the outside and they’ll create overloads on the inside.”