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PROVE IT: Smith wants Villa to ‘go toe-to-toe’ with Manchester United

Dean Smith has challenged Aston Villa to prove they can match Manchester United.

Villa go to Old Trafford on Saturday with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side joint top of the Premier League.

The Villans have lost twice to Chelsea, in the Premier League and Carabao Cup, this month but beat Everton 3-0 last weekend with Smith eager to see his men show their class.

He said: “Our job is to go there and go toe-to-toe with them like we did at Chelsea.

“The Chelsea Premier League game was the catalyst – we went toe-to-toe with them and created big chances. A mistake killed the game for us in that one.

“We took that positivity into the game against Everton and it was a bit of a chess game for 60 minutes but once we got our first goal it was all guns blazing and a comfortable win in the end.

“We feel like there’s a lot of confidence and belief in the group and we feel like we’ve got a talented group, so there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be.”

Smith is without Axel Tuanzebe for the United clash, who cannot play against his parent club, Leon Bailey (quad) and Morgan Sanson (hamstring).

Sanson has made just 10 appearances since a £14million January move from Marseille and made his fourth Villa start in the Carabao Cup penalty defeat at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday before being forced off.

Smith added: “It’s really disappointing for Morgan and frustrating for him. He has had to battle away for the last four or five months with a knee injury. He gets over that and he built up minutes.

“He was ready to play against Chelsea and he was playing well. He just felt a twinge in his hamstring and it can happen to players who haven’t had a full pre-season.”


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