Aston Villa: Dean Smith says players remain grounded despite 100% start

Dean Smith (right)
Aston Villa have not won five consecutive Premier League games since April 1998

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith says his players are keeping their feet "firmly on the ground" to avoid "getting a bloody nose very quickly".

Villa have won their opening four games and will go top of the Premier League for the first time since 2011 if they avoid defeat by Leeds United on Friday.

But after relegation worries last term, Smith is wary of getting carried away.

"To come through those with maximum points certainly exceeds expectations," he said.

"Sheffield United, Fulham and ourselves would have looked at those opening two games and seen an opportunity to pick up points.

"We managed to win both of them and then you go into Liverpool and Leicester, who are both top-five teams.

"Our feet are firmly on the ground because, if you're off it at any stage in the league, you can get a bloody nose very quickly."

Having escaped relegation to the Championship by a point on the final day of the 2019-20 season, Villa have carried their strong end-of-season form into the new campaign.

A 1-0 win over Sheffield United and 3-0 victory at Fulham was followed by a remarkable 7-2 thrashing of Liverpool and then Sunday's 1-0 victory at Leicester.

Those results mean Villa face Marcelo Bielsa's side with the opportunity of winning five consecutive matches at the start of a season for the first time in their history.

Among the players to have shone for Villa during their excellent start is on-loan Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley, who marked his debut with a goal against Liverpool before scoring the winner against Leicester.

"He's made a big impact," Smith added.

"The fact we've gone out and managed to entice that calibre of player into the squad has certainly gone down well in the dressing room and with our staff and fans as well.

"He's a top player, who has been in and amongst the Champions League for the last two or three years of his career. He's been a regular starter for England too.

"He's not played the amount of minutes he's wanted to [at Chelsea], and we've managed to get him to Aston Villa.

"His job now is to produce performances for Aston Villa that take the eye of Gareth Southgate and get him back into the England squad."

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