Dean Smith praised the “attitude, application and teamwork” of his much-changed Aston Villa side after seeing them win 3-1 at Brighton Wednesday. The Villans booked their spot in the fourth round of the EFL Cup thanks to goals from Jota, Conor Hourihane and Jack Grealish and a number of the squad’s fringe players will have provided the boss with food for thought.
Smith made nine changes from the team that dramatically lost 3-2 at Arsenal on Sunday and looks to have some decisions to make ahead of Saturday’s visit of Burnley.
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Three points in front of their fans could prove crucial to the club’s survival hopes and the 48-year-old believes the attributes they showed in Wednesday’s win at the Amex are precisely what is needed going forward. “The words I said to them were attitude, application and teamwork and I thought we got that in abundance” he said, as quoted by the Express & Star. “We did it right.”
Premier League survival has to be the Villans’ priority, with them currently sitting 18th in the table after winning only one of their opening six matches back in the big time.
To outsiders, a cup run maybe seen as a distraction but Smith will certainly not be sacrificing his team’s hopes of returning to Wembley, especially having won promotion at the ground through last term’s Championship play-offs.
Villa have won the League Cup in its various guises five times and the competition provides the boss with the chance to run the rule over his squad players, allowing them crucial minutes to impress.
With Wolves next up in the first round, rather than look to bypass the event, Smith says his team want write their own chapter in the history books by winning the competition.
He added: “Our aim is to win this competition. Everyone enters a competition to do that. The history of this cup for our football club is very good and we won’t take it lightly.”