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Dean Smith praised Aston Villa for showing patience in their efforts to bring down West Brom.
Villa claimed a 3-0 win over rivals from Midlands, which dropped to 10 men in the first half.
It took Villa a while to extend the one-goal lead they had at the time, but they were finally able to claim a convincing victory.
He’s been three undefeated games and three clean sheets in a row in December for Smith’s team. Naturally, the manager was satisfied with what he saw.
“A very good performance again, after Burnley and West Ham when we came out with nothing,” he said. “Winning three away games 3-0 shows that we are in a good place.
“We started very well and we hoped that against a team with a new coach we would rebound. Our energy levels were there to see, we monitored it from start to finish. “
The task was made easier for Villa when his opponents were reduced to 10 men. It was a decision that Smith agreed with.
“You can’t ram and Jake Livermore is frustrated, he’s fouled and he goes,” he said. “He catches Jack Grealish in the calf and by the letter of the law he’s a red. It was a little red fog, can’t be approached like that.
“Jack was fantastic and it looks like he’s playing on the playground with his teammates. His balance is incredible, it is very difficult to hit the ball. “
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Happy Smith Villa didn’t ‘force’ him
Opposed to one less man, Villa had to wait for the right moment to take advantage. Smith believes the way they did it showed a sign of improvement compared to last season.
“There were times last season when the opposition was reduced to 10 men and we tried to force it but we were patient. We lost several opportunities to make it 2-0. Ollie Watkins’ offside was very marginal.
“I don’t think they shot at us in the whole game.”
Smith also sang the praises of Anwar El Ghazi, who scored the first and last goals of the match.
He added: “Anwar El Ghazi’s performance levels were good against Burnley and he did well tonight and scored two goals.”