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Dean Smith has insisted he was not using Aston Villa’s jam-packed post-restart schedule as an excuse for bad results.
Villa had the benefit of a seven-day break between their 1-0 defeat to Wolves and Sunday’s trip to play Premier League champions Liverpool at Anfield.
Prior to that, they had played four games in 10 games in a hectic restart to life after the coronavirus lockdown.
Former Villa goalkeeper Mark Bosnich criticised him for highlighting the fixture congestion, but Smith feels he made a valid point.
“The rest has been really beneficial – we’ve had to recover because that was such an intense period,” he told Sky Sports News. “I think I got battered because people thought I was making excuses but I wasn’t.
“We went into the restart having played a game less than everyone and then 10 days later we’ve played a game more.
Liverpool vs A Villa
July 5, 2020, 4:15pm
“If Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp had said the same thing I think everybody would be sitting up and taking notice.
“I was just frustrated at the scheduling but we’ve been given seven days to recover now and we’re physically and mentally recovered to take on the champions.”
Villa’s 1-0 defeat against Wolves on Saturday leaves them second from bottom of the table, level on points with Bournemouth and West Ham but having played a game more than both their rivals.
They play Premier League champions Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, a side routed 4-0 by Manchester City on Thursday night but one whose attitude in that game – Smith feels – should not be questioned.
“I’m a little bit with Jurgen Klopp on this because they had as many chances as Manchester City, their attitude was spot on,” he said.
“Will there be a backlash? I think it’ll be a similar performance to what they put in on Thursday night. I don’t think there’s any issue with attitude with the Liverpool players. Manchester City are capable of doing that to any team.
“We made Liverpool work really hard to get the victory over us at Villa Park and we were three minutes away from getting the win ourselves.”