Aston Villa boss Dean Smith calls Norwich 'a team to be reckoned with' after Man City shock
“Anybody who can beat Manchester City in this league is a team to be reckoned with and they’ve done that already at Carrow Road."
Last Updated: 03/10/19 5:03pm
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith is expecting a tough test against Norwich on Saturday as both sides look to secure a win that will help move them clear of the relegation zone.
Norwich beat Villa home and away last season on their way to winning the Sky Bet Championship title, but the Canaries have found life much tougher in the top division.
Villa joined them in the Premier League as they defeated Derby in the play-off final but Smith has warned Norwich they will face different opponents to the ones they twice got the better of last season.
"Anybody who can beat Manchester City in this league is a team to be reckoned with and they've done that already at Carrow Road," Smith said.
"We know they've got firepower within their team and they are tough to play against. We had two tough games against them last season and came out on the wrong side of a 2-1 [defeat] both times.
"But they won't have played against this Aston Villa and some of my players won't have played against them before.
"It's a game we are looking forward to and I'm sure it's a game both sides will be looking at to get three points."
One player who has made the step up to the Premier League look seamless is Villa midfielder John McGinn.
Only Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling has had more shots on target than McGinn in the Premier League this season and Smith is unsurprised by the Scotland international's progress.
"He feels he could probably have six or seven goals already, such has been the standard of his play," Smith added.
"We knew what a player we have got, he signed a new contract at the start of the season, and he has been playing very well.
"We knew his adaptation to the Premier League would be seamless and it has been. He's just showing us the potential we believed he had in him anyway.
We knew his adaptation to the Premier League would be seamless and it has been. He's just showing us the potential we believed he had in him anyway.
Dean Smith on John McGinn
"His first half performance last week [in the 2-2 draw with Burnley] was as high as I've seen it."
In contrast, summer signing Wesley has struggled to make such a positive impact.
The Brazilian joined from Club Brugge for £22m over the summer but has scored just two goals this campaign and was left frustrated after struggling to make an impact in the draw with Burnley at Villa Park.
Smith has given the player his backing, however, and is looking for a positive reaction from him this weekend at Carrow Road.
"His performance against Burnley on Saturday wasn't great and he was the first to admit that to me when I went through his clips with him," Smith said.
"What I've seen in training from this week has been a reaction and he will go out there to try and prove people wrong. It's a tough job as a lone striker and he was up against two streetwise centre-backs.
"James Tarkowski I've had myself at Brentford and [Ben] Mee can both give centre forwards in this league a lot of problems.
"The fact they got the upper hand on him early in the game and he showed his frustrations a little bit, he'll learn from.
"He's a young striker, still only 22, but he'll get better and better."