When the final whistle was blown on Saturday it was a huge weight lifted off our shoulders. Although we are still four points from safety the win over Aston Villa could be the turning point in saving our season.
Survival is far from guaranteed but reducing the gap between ourselves and seventeenth from seven points to four is massive.
Not only does it give us a realistic hope of avoiding the drop, I think it also makes a difference in terms of who signs for us. Had we lost at the weekend - something not beyond the realms of possibility – I feel our position when trying to attract potential signings would have been much more difficult. They might think, ‘well, they look dead and buried and I want nothing to do with them.’
Now, people might say: ‘Ok, they’ve got Sam Allardyce, and they’re only four points from safety.’
It gives us a better chance in the transfer market because safety looks a lot more realistic though, again, not guaranteed.
Strengthening our defence in this window is something we obviously need to do and we could do with another goalscorer in my opinion. A playmaker in midfield wouldn’t hurt either.
Jermain Defoe was my man-of-the-match against Aston Villa and not just because of the two goals scored – he worked tirelessly off the ball when Aston Villa has possession. That really impressed me and it’s something we need to see from more of our players if we are to start collecting more points as we progress through January.
What we undoubtedly need to see less of is the potentially game-costing mistakes. No-one will be more relieved than Fabio Borini, after his selfishness led to an unbelievable goal from Carles Gil. I love Fabio, but you don’t ever try to be clever when you’re trying to hold the lead in a game as important as that one. Do the basics, even if it isn’t pretty. The result means everything and you can’t afford to blow it.
We got away it on Saturday but luckily for us we were playing a poor side. Try that against anyone half-decent and we’ll be punished.
As for the cup game at the weekend against Arsenal, I don’t really care much about that match in truth. I’m not saying disrespect the FA Cup, as it’s a competition we’d usually like to do well in, but the league fixture against Swansea just four days later is so much more important. We MUST prioritise that game.
Nevertheless, it feels nice to enjoy a win again and hopefully that is the first of many to come in 2016.