First of nine hurdles jumped

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The more I think about Saturday’s result, the better it was: a mesmerising patch in the first half during which the players passed the ball as if it were glued to their feet, then a second half of great resilience. To me, Villa could well be a dark horse this season so to make it through with three points, and in the manner we did, warmed the old cockles.

No rest for the wicked though, as it’s up to Newcastle on Wednesday. It’s hard to speculate what kind of side we will come up against, to be honest. The club seems in absolute turmoil and the team have been playing like drains at home, but when a manager’s job is on the line, especially a manager who has taken such pleasure in dismantling Arsenal in the past, then caution is the keyword.

With any luck, no more injuries will come to light between now and then, but suffice to say that losing Hleb and Fabregas in the same game is a creative blow.

A quick word about Setanta. I vowed at the beginning of the season not to spend any more money on television than the already extravagant £38 that leaves my bank account every month for Sky. On Saturday for the Villa game I buckled, and signed up for a month’s Setanta, thinking it would be just the £9.99p.

What a fool I was. Not only is there a “one-off” £10 “connection fee”, but it transpires – and it’s my fault for not reading the small print – that although there is indeed no annual contract, you are not able to cancel during the minimum term – which is a month – and after that point, you have to give 30 days notice. So what started out in my head as a trifling tenner, will probably become a few pennies short of thirty pounds.

Suffice to say, the whole episode has left me feeling sour. And once I have managed to extricate myself from this mess of my own doing, I can confirm that even if I was able to borrow the world’s largest bargepole, I will never, ever touch Setanta again.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.