There is still plenty of work for Dean Smith to do at Aston Villa, but the early signs are promising that the new manager can have a big impact on the club’s fortunes.
Villa produced a much-improved performance to beat Swansea City by a single goal on Saturday in front of a bumper 41,326 crowd.
The result moved the Midlands club up to 13th in the table, just three points adrift of the play-off places. Smith’s side are back in action on Tuesday at Norwich City and a victory there could be the catalyst for a sustained promotion bid.
The Canaries will head into the game full of confidence following their 2-1 victory at Nottingham Forest on Saturday, but if Villa can play as well as they did against Swansea they are capable of taking something from Tuesday’s clash.
Villa can be backed at 21/10 to win at Carrow Road and there may plenty of the fans willing to request a bet to wager on what appears to be generous odds.
Queens Park Rangers are next on the agenda on Friday as they welcome Villa to Loftus Road. Albert Adomah’s double helped Villa to a 2-1 success on their last trip to QPR and a repeat scoreline should be achievable.
Villa return home the following Friday to face Bolton Wanderers. The two sides split their two meetings last season, with each recording a 1-0 victory, but this is a game Smith’s side should be winning.
A trip to Derby County on Saturday, November 10, won’t be easy, particularly with Frank Lampard’s team playing so well against Sheffield United in their most recent outing.
Villa have lost just one of their last seven meetings with Derby in all competitions, although that solitary defeat came in the corresponding fixture last season.
The international break follows the Derby game and will give Smith the opportunity to prepare his side fully for the big clash with Birmingham City on Saturday, November 25.
Villa are unbeaten in their last 12 league meetings with their local rivals and a victory here would endear Smith to the fans even more.
Forest are next on the agenda when they visit Villa Park the following Wednesday. Villa did the double over Forest last season and they will hope to add another win in this one.
A 12-14 point haul from the next six games appears achievable and would represent a great start to Smith’s time in charge of the club following Saturday’s result.
A play-off place is still a genuine target this season and if Smith can get his side playing to their potential there is still time to get back in the mix for automatic promotion.