The team was the one that was supposed to start up at Newcastle on Saturday - only Defoe, thankfully, made it this time after picking up an injury in the warm-up at St James Park.
Defoe was looking menacing right from the opening seconds of the game, although it was a
momentary lapse by Michael Dawson that let Gabriel Agbonlahor through on goal - an opening
sealed and foiled by Ledley King.
There followed a succession of half-chances or moves that would have been hugely promising if
the final ball had a little more purpose. Tom Huddlestone, however, seriously stretched Gabor
Kiraly on 17 minutes when his piledriver required the fingertips of the Hungarian goalkeeper to
tip the ball over the bar.
Paul Robinson fielded well from a long-range Craig Gardner effort, before a Dimitar Berbatov
surge into the area was thwarted by Kiraly, leaving Mellberg injured and Aaron Hughes departing
the pitch on a stretcher. Five minutes later Defoe stole away from his marker and unleashed a
goalbound shot that was diverted off course by the backside of the recovered Mellberg.
Defoe then shot across the face of goal after good work and link play from strike partner
Berbatov. It was a pretty absorbing first half featuring lots of home pressure, but strangely
little in terms of really clear cut chances or efforts that make goalkeepers work. On the
stroke of half-time Berbatov worked the leg of Kiraly, one which unfortunately sent his shot
the wrong side of the post.
The second period began in much the same fashion as the first ended, the tempo was quick,
although Villa were contributing a bit more to the contest - having made two changes and used
up their subs at the interval.
A Huddlestone chip forward brilliantly picked out the run of Defoe on 54 minutes and it was
only a stray touch from the striker that offered Kiraly the chance to come out and snatch the
The breakthrough came on 57 minutes when Berbatov threaded the ball into the path of his
forward thinking strike partner who had dashed into the area and shot across Kiraly and into
the bottom right hand corner.
Danny Murphy was introduced with just over 20 minutes remaining in place of Hossam Ghaly
Our lethal weapons in attack combined again with 76 minutes on the clock and made the most of a
Robinson clearance to the delight of the vast majority of the 35,293 in attendance.
Berbatov connected with the punt downfield and steered the ball in the direction of Defoe, who
took it on before thumping past a despairing Kiraly. The delight was tempered five minutes
later when Gareth Barry resisted challenges inside our area to slot past Robinson to reduce the
deficit - just when we were thinking we could relax and enjoy the last ten minutes!
Defoe then should have bagged his hat-trick at the other end but, after jinking free of his markers, shot into the legs of Kiraly. He was given a rest with two minutes left on the clock as we sought to seal the game, a requirement that was duly achieved.
Jermain Defoe made it 11 goals in ten starts with his double strike that secured a 2-1 Boxing Day victory over Aston Villa .The little hitman pounced twice in the second half and on both occasions his partner in attack can claim an assist as three Christmas points were banked at the Lane.