Only a few weeks ago, Dean Smith was watching on from the sidelines as Aston Villa were beaten at home by West Brom.

Fast forward to the weekend and Villa recorded a deserved 1-0 win over bitter rivals Birmingham City to once again earn the bragging rights of the Second City.

Before the game, Smith had a choice to bring back the returning John McGinn into the starting XI, but he opted against that move and stuck with a midfield three of Glenn Whelan, Conor Hourihane and Jack Grealish.

(Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

In the first half against the Blues, Whelan, who arguably would have made way had Smith started with McGinn, produced a brilliant defensive display in front of the back four.

As a result, Villa went into the break goalless after producing the best chance of the game through Anwar El Ghazi, not forgetting that from a defensive standpoint they also kept the home crowd quiet.

Then after the hour mark, with the game still 0-0, Smith introduced McGinn and winger Andre Green into the action, with the duo making an instant impact.

(Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

Four minutes after their introduction, McGinn was involved in the build-up to the only goal of the game which was brilliantly guided home by Grealish.

There is no doubt that McGinn’s introduction in the middle of the park changed the tempo of the game, pushed Villa further up the field and resulted in Villa’s attacking players getting more involved in the game.

Smith deserves credit for that because his tactical changes before the match and during the game played a major role in his team going home with the bragging rights and all three points.

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