Mel takes the Baggies to Villa Park for his first away Premier League fixture on Wednesday after claiming a 1-1 home draw with Everton in his first game in charge.
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But Mel is expecting a stern examination of West Brom's credentials at Villa, saying he has been impressed with Paul Lambert's side's recent performances while paying particular tribute to their potency on the break.
"I've watched Villa's last two games at Villa Park against Arsenal [lost 2-1] and at Anfield against Liverpool (drew 2-2) and they are very good on the counter-attack," Mel told reporters.
"They are very good on the long play and with the second ball through [Christian] Benteke. The players know this question and this week we have worked hard on the pitch to stop the second ball and stop the counter-attack."
Former Real Betis boss Mel went on to say he is looking forward to his first taste of a Premier League derby as West Brom make the short trip across the Midlands to Birmingham.
"It's a big game for us, for the fans, the club and players - we need to win," he added. "I hope we win on Wednesday night and I hope to be able to give the fans a good time."