The Villa win â€“ having not played that well, and right at the death, and thanks to a header (rare), and from a corner (plentiful but rarely fruitful) â€“ was a deeply satisfying result. Itâ€™s a game we may well previously have lost, but coming after the loss at Man City, it showed tremendous bouncebackability.
It also cemented, for me, the usefulness of Yossi Benayoun. His signing has been a bit of a slow-burner for me. But the fact that the littlest man in the box could come off the bench, steal in and nab the winner was a big moment. On top of that you could see what it meant to him. He celebrated with real gusto. Hands aloft, followed by him lickety-splitting it out of the box with his mane flowing behind him. Brilliant stuff.
Of our Supermarket Sweep August quintet, the plaudits have obviously gone primarily to those who have played the most â€“ Arteta (quietly brilliant), Mertesacker (who I like a lot) and Santos (slimmed down, spiced up, stretchered off). But Iâ€™m confident that weâ€™re going to see a lot more of Benayoun over the rest of the season. With that one strike, he has proved that at the very least heâ€™s got the capacity to be a gamechanger off the bench.
Next up is Wolves, on Boxing Day+1. Iâ€™m well aware that moving the match is a pain of the highest magnitude for those coming from far away. But from a selfish perspective, Iâ€™m ok with it. Not because I have an aversion to leaving the house on Boxing Day. Mostly, itâ€™s because I have memories of Boxing Day producing some right turgid old numbers. The crowd can be flat, the play can be flat. Our last two Boxing Day encounters were a 2-2 at Villa in 2008 (far from turgid, but we did turn a 2-0 lead into a 2-2 draw), and a 0-0 at Portsmouth in 2007.
Contrast that with our last two games played on 27th December â€“ a 3-1 win against Chelsea in 2010 and a 3-0 win against Villa in 2009.
So you see what Iâ€™ve done here: Using shaky statistics, a paucity of reason or logic and hauling long-forgotten games out of my memory, I have written off Boxing Day games as ones to avoid.
Anyway, enough of that. Wherever you are, I hope youâ€™ve got a few days off. Enjoy them, relax, itâ€™s been a pleasure.
Ah, finally â€“ a letter to Santa. I cajoled my 6-yr-old into doing the donkey work. I hope I haven’t confused him.