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Burnley travel to Aston Villa tomorrow with home boss Dean Smith set to come up against the Clarets for just the second time having been in charge of Brentford when we won 3-1 at Griffin  Park in January 2016.

Villa fan Smith took over from Steve Bruce in October last year when they sat 15th in the Championship but they’d reached fifth by the end of the season and went on to win the play-offs to win a return to the Premier League they left three years earlier.

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Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s game, Smith said: “Our last two games have been against two sides who’ll probably finish in the top eight this season (West Ham and Arsenal), and it should have been six points. We struggled to break down West Ham when they went down to ten, but never felt in danger. Then, at Arsenal, we used the extra man a bit better, especially at the start of the second half. We should have punished them more, and instead got punished ourselves for not doing so.

“I feel it is harsh because I look at the eight games this season and think only Tottenham have been better than us. We’ve been very competitive and it’s just that a few mistakes have cost us. We’ve been good at Villa Park too. On the road, we haven’t got the points, but that’s sometimes been down to things out of our control. We’re learning every game and that’s the only way you get better.”

Asked about Burnley, Smith said: “They’ve started well. I watched them at Arsenal before we played them and they gave a really good account of themselves. Like ourselves, they pushed them all the way and could have got something out of that game.

“They’ve got a lot of threats and they’re very good at what they do. The two front men have scored some good goals so far this season. We’ll need to be on our toes in order to look after them. Burnley are organised and established now. They’ve been in Europe and belong in the top flight.

“We’re concentrating on Burnley. Every game we’ve gone into we’ve believed we can win. We could and maybe should have on a few occasions. We’ve got great belief in what we’re doing. We’re 100% focused on the next game.”

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It’s a newly promoted club for the second week running for Sean Dyche and Burnley with Norwich having visited Turf Moor last week. “The new sides often have that bit of gusto and extra energy, especially early on,” Sean Dyche said.

“There’s a belief in what you are doing, regardless of whether you get a result or not, but it’s about a season’s work and later in the season is when the grind really starts. That’s for Villa and the other promoted sides to work out, but that’s certainly my reflection of the two occasions we were new to the Premier League. We’ve come through that and although we are by no means guaranteed anything, we do look a little bit more assured about how we go about our business. You grow with the league and that sounds really easy, but the way it works isn’t.

“It will be interesting this year because the three promoted teams are all going about it in different ways. Norwich have stuck with what they know and not gone as big as the other two in terms of finance, while Sheffield United are something of a half-way house, and Villa have put a lot of money in. It will be interesting to see how that pans out and I honestly don’t think there is a perfect way. However, you do have to earn the right to continue in the Premier League and you only do that by winning.

“Villa seem to be trying to mould a team quickly with some new players and get points on the board. We have to be aware of their strengths and go there and perform, but as I said we are getting more mature in our understanding of the Premier League and I think we showed that against Norwich last week. Can we now go and show it again against Villa?”

Burnley are current ninth in the table but Dyche said of that: “The league table is good for the fans, but I’m not looking at it and thinking we are in good shape with regards to the season. What I do think is it brings confidence and breeds a mentality that will continually enhance the details we work with.

“We are a pretty balanced group because we’ve had a lot of trials and tribulations, ups and downs and a lot of enjoyment along the way. They players enjoy their performance levels, but I don’t think they get too carried away with it. It’s to be enjoyed after a good result, of course, but it soon has to be parked because the next one comes along quickly.”

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