Michael Dawson reckons we’ve seen a different side to the team so far over the festive period.
We went down to 10 men against Aston Villa on Boxing Day and again against Newcastle United on Tuesday but came through with maximum points in the Premier League.
Villa was a real test after Jermain Defoe was sent off with over an hour of the game remaining.
We were already 1-0 up by then and the 10 men coped admirably to initially build on that lead – a fine goal on the counter-attack from Rafa van der Vaart – and then defend with their collective lives after Villa got a goal back with 10 minutes left.
Two days later and it was a similar story with Younes Kaboul receiving his marching orders with us 1-0 up again, this time with 25 minutes left on the clock.
Once again, the 10 men didn’t budge, again added to the lead and this time stood firm for a first clean sheet in the Premier League since the first day of the season.
Michael was naturally at the heart of it all defensively. “Those wins were massive for us,” he said.
“Going down to 10 men so early at Villa on Boxing Day was disappointing but we showed a different side to the team.
“We normally have a lot of possession and play our football and we did that at the start of the game but we went down to 10 men and then had to dig in as a team in the second half.
“We had to be strong and that went throughout the team with Luka, Wilson, Gaz (Gareth Bale) and Azza (Aaron Lennon) all working their socks off and Rafa running the lines up front on his own
“Defensively, we had to head everything away and get our blocks in and we did it again in the second half against Newcastle. It was great to win both of those matches.”
Michael admitted he was ‘a bit battered and bruised’ after his own Clash of the Titans against Newcastle’s battering ram of a front man Andy Carroll on Tuesday.
“It was tough and we knew that would be the case beforehand,” he added. “From a personal point of view, you look how well Andy Carroll has done this season and it was always going to be a test.”