With Villa and the Robins sat fifth and sixth in the Championship table, the upcoming clash at Villa Park could hardly be more important with a place in the play-offs on the line.
With a clear gap opening up between sixth and seventh, both sides will be under no illusions that a win could all-but secure a place in the play-offs with just a handful of games remaining in a typically topsy-turvy Championship campaign.
And Bristol City boss Johnson will have to find a way to outmanoeuvre a manager he clearly admirers.
"Yeah, (Smith’s) a great manager," said Johnson.
"I've played against him a number of times since he's been at Walsall and he's always caused you problems tactically and whatever level he's at and obviously now he's at a top club he can influence the game.
"I think he's a brilliant young English manager. I really like to see young English managers doing well and he's got a fantastic club there.”
Aston Villa looked set to miss out on a place in the top six thanks to a dismal run of form around Christmas but Smith, who was handed his dream job in October after a successful stint at Brentford, has turned things around in style.
Villa have won each of their last seven Championship games and could hardly be more confident as they prepare to host Bristol City.
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