Goalkeeper Martinez has posted 10 shut-outs in 19 matches since joining in a £20million deal from Arsenal last September. But while Smith never had any doubts over the Argentine’s ability, the Villa boss believes his attitude has been an even bigger plus.
He said: “I think Emi has probably exceeded what I thought he would bring to the team, certainly in terms of his calmness and personality.
“I think the latter has been really pleasing and a great addition to the dressing room.
“But he hasn’t exceeded what I expected him to be like as a keeper. I expected him to make the saves he did at Southampton and he would probably be the first to say he would expect to make them too.
“He was the first in the dressing room thanking his team-mates for the blocks they made when needed.”
Villa will aim to follow up Saturday’s 1-0 win at Southampton when they host West Ham tomorrow night.
The match is their fifth in 15 days but while they also welcome Arsenal on Saturday lunchtime, Smith insists his players are relishing the hectic schedule.
He said: “It’s a busy period, the games are coming thick and fast.
“But the lads are looking forward to them and enjoying it as well. We feel like we are in a good place at the moment.”