League Cup: Dean Smith demands Aston Villa 'learn lessons' from defeat to Leicester City

Villa manager hails the loan arrival of Danny Drinkwater from Chelsea – although the midfielder is cup-tied

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04: Dean Smith, Manager of Aston Villa looks on prior to the FA Cup Third Round match between Fulham FC and Aston Villa at Craven Cottage on January 04, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
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Dean Smith has said Aston Villa must "learn our lessons" from their heavy Premier League defeat to Leicester City when the two teams face each other in the League Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday.

Villa were beaten 4-1 at Villa Park by Brendan Rodgers' Leicester side last month in a display that showed the gulf in class between the two teams. Promoted Villa are currently 17th in the league standings, one point above the relegation zone, while high-flying Leicester are second.

Villa will have their chance to exact revenge in the League Cup and host the first leg on Wednesday night, although manager Smith has warned that a repeat performance of the league encounter will likely result in another loss.

“We’ve got to learn our lessons [from the Premier League defeat]. We were very open in our defending and they counter attacked very well," Smith told the Aston Villa website.

“It’s easy to forget that we had the best chance after 12 minutes and hit the crossbar. All in all, they were better than us at Villa Park and we’ve got to make sure we learn our lessons.

“If you sit back and defend against Leicester, they’ve got players who can hurt you.”

Playing the home fixture second in a two-legged cup tie is often seen as an advantage – a view supported by Smith, who said: “I prefer to play away first, but the key thing is making sure we’re still in the tie. We’ve got to strike the balance between being cautious and trying to win."

Villa have been hit by a string of long-term injuries to key players in recent weeks. Striker Wesley, goalkeeper Tom Heaton, and midfielder John McGinn will all be sidelined for the foreseeable future, which has forced Smith to enter the transfer market for new recruits, and a loan deal for Chelsea's Danny Drinkwater was completed on Tuesday.

Although Drinkwater's career has stalled since a £35 million (Dh168.7m) move to Chelsea in the summer of 2017, Smith has no doubt the 29-year-old midfielder can recapture the form that helped Leicester win the Premier League title that year.

"Everybody knows about him from his Premier League-winning season with Leicester," Smith said of Drinkwater, who is cup-tied for the semi-final. "He got the move to Chelsea and it probably didn't work out the way he would have liked.

"Then he had a loan move to Burnley this season and he probably hasn't played as many games as he would have liked, but from meeting him I liked the hunger –  I saw it in his eyes.

"He has a lot to prove now because it hasn't happened for him at Chelsea. We're going to give him an environment where he can flourish and he looks really hungry."

"It's been frustrating for him but you only have to look at the quality at Chelsea to realise it's a tough squad to break into for a lot of people they've signed through the years.

"Changes in managers don't help players either. But from what I've heard from other people, and himself, is his hunger and desire to play has always been there.

"Attitude is the biggest thing for me. The top ones are those with the best attitude. He certainly has that."