Another great win and suddenly all the media talk of another mid-season slump has disappeared. In reality no Villa supporter would have held that view, we have been playing well without winning, but it is always good to see a victory at Villa Park. It was, though, a result that was seriously threatened when Spurs took advantage of a slack second half spell to equalise through the previously anonymous Jermain Defoe, after which Laursen's winner was greatly important.
The biggest worry with us at the moment is failing to decisively finish games when we're on top, and the biggest culprit today, unfortunately, was Luke Moore. After the Derby County match I wrote of him that "It is not that he is playing particularly badly, or particularly lazily, but there is a concerning air of indifference in his play." Yesterday only the indifference wasn't true, he seemed gutted. When he contrived to miss exactly the chance strikers love when things aren't going their way he was visibly affected. Its hard to exactly convey the precise emotion of the moment but a sigh went round the whole of Villa Park, as if nearly 40'000 people suddenly saw his Villa career evaporating before them, and he knew it. Its a shame that we seem to be about to lose a Holte End hero, but if we're to get where we all want to be there will inevitably be casualties.
This apart yesterday's game was, I though, hugely enjoyable. It wasn't the classic some people maybe expected after some eye-catching Christmas scorefests, but both teams played some attractive football. Spurs' main problem was that virtually all of theirs ended when they reached the final third, whilst their defence struggled to cope with our more direct attacking threat. Some media outlets have chosen to use the fact we scored from two set-pieces as evidence only of Spurs poor defending, and ignored the fact that, but for some indecisive attacking, we could have won far more comfortably. Also interesting that Alan Hansen is so assured and convinced by Spurs' singular ability to break into the top four, though they haven't for over two decades and, for all the decoration of Berbatov, Keane and Lennon, don't do the basics right.
The only Spurs players who really stood out were Berbatov, Robinson and Huddlestone. The first for being so surly and cynical, at one point deliberately studding Laursen in mid-air with a trailing leg and continualy making a back for him. Robinson for his flapping at crosses and good-hearted response to some chants Harry Redknapp would have balked at. Redknapp should take note of his reaction and not act like such a spoilt child next time someone shouts at him. Huddlestone, I thought, improved Spurs a lot and I'm not quite sure how the impotent combination of Jenas and Zokora/Prince-Boateng has kept him out of this side.
Martin Laursen is developing into a cult hero at Villa Park, even drawing comparisons with the legendary Paul McGrath, and yesterday proved why. Not content with limiting Berbatov to a periphery role, he then scores a vital winner and, along with Nigel Reo-Coker, throws his shirt into the Holte End after the final whistle. Both of them had impressive games, along with the other usual suspects - Barry, Young and Gabby. One other player I would give a special mention to is Curtis Davies. There are few teams who pose such an attacking threat as this Spurs side and he was notably solid at the back. It seems as if he has taken the shirt off Zat Knight, and I doubt many Villans will be too gutted.
Despite the protestations of Poyet and Ramos after the match I think we were value for this win, a crucial one in many respects. Hopefully we'll really kick-start the new year against Man Utd next week, but to be honest I'm not too hopeful - experience has taught me otherwise.