The way I see it - Portsmouth v Arsenal

Last updated : 30 December 2009 By Jason Hogan

Me? I had a fabulous Christmas. I drank like a fish, ate like a horse and bore witness to the best result Arsenal have got this season - bar none.

The buzz surrounding Villa was almost like the build up to England in the World Cup. The tub thumping and the chest beating certainly was at it's height on Saturday. The press rolled out Peter Withe, 1982 and all that. They also wistfully went through all the names of the great European Cup winning side and where are they now.

The strange thing was when I read through the names of Kenny Swain, Ken McNaught, Dennis Mortimer and the redoubtable Gordon Cowans, I got a real feeling of nostalgia. I nodded sagely to myself and thought "Mmm yes, I remember those guys. These were the kind of guys that symbolised how football used to be".

But deep down, I knew full well what the trip down memory lane was all about. It was all about Villa's class of 2009 being good, being English and, above all, Villa coming to Arsenal to fulfil their destiny and complete the "Grand Slam" as it were. From there the path to true greatness and emulating the class of 1982 would have been considered well and truly open. It was so tantalisingly close for all the press hacks. I bet they turned up at The Grove wanting to write that so badly they could taste it.

Arsenal(or at least Fabregas) had other ideas though. In a fairly tight game, The Gunners had gone desperately close on a couple of occasions with Carlos Cuellar twice being on hand to clear off the line. As I watched the clock tick towards the hour

mark I was wondering whether Wenger would make a change. Bang on cue, Fabregas replaced Denilson. I rubbed my hands together and thought "Now lets get 'em"

27 minutes later the young Spaniard had turned the game on its head with the kind of devastating one-two combination Manny Pacquiao would have been proud of and with that, he duly hobbled off again knowing that he had delivered two blows Villa simply couldn't find a response to.

However in many ways there is nothing like seeing justice done on a football pitch and a footballer getting his due. That came with the third goal.

The only consistent thing that has been apparent abut Abou Diaby is that he has often been the scourge of Villa. He has rarely failed to score against them and he didn't disappoint here either. His run and curled shot were due reward for a lad who maybe, just maybe starting to fill into an Arsenal shirt.

I will freely admit that I have not been Diaby's greatest fan and I have said some very harsh things about him. But credit to him he has now put in two decent performances back to back. Unlike in years gone by, he now gives and goes at pace, he doesn't dwell on the ball too long and whilst you always know he will make a threatening surge forward, he has added an end product to it. We have all waited a long time to see him do this sort of thing. Keep it up, lad.

So, why was this the best win of the season so far bar none? Because although this isn't quite the same as a win over Spurs or Man United, it felt, given the pre match hype extolling the credentials of Villa and what was at stake, just as good.

And when you throw in the fact the O'Neill is a British manager with largely English team can you just imagine what the press would have done with that if Villa had won at our expense? The words "field" and "day" just wouldn't have done it justice

And having picked up just one point from Villa last season, we are effectively two points up on our haul against them. If that doesn't give you reasons to be cheerful, if only in the short term, then precious little else will.

Now, it's time to look forward to our trip to Fratton Park where will be entertained by Portsmouth.

It's fair to say that life has been a bit of an ordeal for the South Coast club of late. The boardroom and financial issues surrounding the club have been well chronicled and only today they have been served with a winding up petition by the HMRC.

Things are just as serious on the pitch at Pompey as well as off it. To combat their plight on the pitch, Avram Grant has been brought in to replace Paul Hart. I know there are people sniggering at Grant not least because of his demeanour but I think this guy is not a bad coach.

In fact believe it or not, Pompey are a tougher side to beat. Okay, they may have been turned over by the PRF recently but I listened to that game on the radio and Pompey gave the PRF all the problems they could handle and it was only rash tackle from Mark Wilson that gave the PRF the penalty that won them the game.

They also came unstuck at Upton Park but it was only a late goal that allowed the Hammers to rest at all easy.

So, the message I send out you all is that things are not quite as they seem. I thought we were fairly diligent against Villa and we will need to be tonight. 13 points from 15 is our return since the debacle against the PRF. We will need to professional and focussed in order to get something down on the South Coast.