Dean Smith feels Villa have had a ‘good start’ despite back-to-back defeats

Boss Dean Smith insists Aston Villa’s recent slip should not overshadow their progress this season.

Villa have suffered successive defeats after winning their opening four Premier League games.

They lost 4-3 to Southampton on Sunday, after being 4-0 down, having also lost 3-0 to Leeds.

Villa have more points now – 12 in six games – than they did after 12 matches last season and, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Arsenal, Smith believes they remain in a good place.

“We still feel that we’ve had a good start (even if) the last two results have been disappointing,” he said.

“The players are still confident, that’s for sure, they want to put it right.

“We believe we have a really good squad and players that can play the way we want to play.

“There was a good reaction in the Southampton game, they showed an awful lot of character and played some really good football in the second half, but we can’t give teams four-goal leads.

“They have started with good performances, so Mikel (Arteta) has done a fantastic job.

“It was a big win for us (last season) that helped us to retain our Premier League status, and we played them in pre-season, so we know a lot about them.

“It will be a really tough game, they had a really good result against Manchester United last week and Molde last night.”

Forward Bertrand Traore is out for a couple of weeks after coming off in the first half of Sunday’s defeat to the Saints with a groin injury.

Goalkeeper Tom Heaton has returned to full training after being out since January with a serious knee injury, although striker Wesley remains out with his own long-term knee issue.

“Bertrand came off and he’ll be struggling for Sunday, he won’t make it,” Smith told a press conference.

“He’ll definitely be back after the international break. Tom is in full training, he needs a few games.

“He’s got a chance (of playing for the U23s against Burnley), we’re waiting to see if that will go ahead and if it does, I expect him to play.”

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