Dean Smith has stated that Aston Villa ‘didn’t target’ Saul Niguez during Chelsea’s 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening, as he told Sky Sports.
The Villa boss admitted that he ‘didn’t know he was playing’ before the teamsheets came out.
Saul, who signed from Atletico Madrid on transfer deadline day, made his Chelsea debut yesterday.
But on a number of occasions, the Spanish midfielder, 26, lost possession of the ball and it seemed as though the pace of the game was too much for the player.
Smith was asked about Villa’s tactics towards Saul and this was his honest response.
“We didn’t target him because we didn’t know he was playing until we got the teamsheets,” said Smith.
“We targetted whoever was playing in there. They like to play through their six’s and we thought it was an opportunity to win the ball back.
“I thought we did that a number of times, but we didn’t take our chances.”
At half-time, Thomas Tuchel made the brave call of hauling off Saul and bringing on the experienced legs of Jorginho.
It was a tough Premier League debut for Saul and one that he has to learn from pretty quickly.
Even though Chelsea weren’t at their best, they did secure a 3-0 win, which did seem flattering towards the end.
But that’s why they are European champions and Premier League title challengers this season, as Villa will be kicking themselves at the number of chances they missed, especially in the first half.