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Key spell - Harry

Harry Redknapp has underlined the importance of the Christmas and New Year period.

Harry Redknapp has underlined the importance of the Christmas and New Year period.

We've four huge games in the space of 11 days in the Barclays Premier League, starting with a 5.30pm kick-off against Aston Villa at Villa Park on Boxing Day.

We follow that with back-to-back home games against Newcastle on Tuesday, December 28 (3pm) and Fulham on New Year's Day (3pm).

The four-match sequence ends with a trip to Goodison Park to face Everton on Wednesday, January 5 (8pm).

We go into this key spell sitting fifth in the Premier League, four points adrift of Chelsea.

"There are lots of points at stake and if you can have a good Christmas, wherever you are in the league, it can make a massive difference," said Harry on Christmas Eve.

"If you are at the top, the points make a big difference. If you are mid-table, you can push into the top group and those at the bottom need results to make things look better going into the New Year. It's a vital time."

Villa are first up over the festive period. "They are good side and it's a great club, Villa, with great traditions," added Harry.

"It was a massive shock when Martin O'Neill left but Gerard (Houllier) has gone in there now and he'll get them going, for sure.

"I saw them play United and they were fantastic, 2-0 up with 10 minutes to go (it ended 2-2). It's such a thin dividing line between success and failure.

"They could go on a run and put themselves back in the picture but they've also brought young players into the team who are gaining great experience. I'm sure the future for Villa is good.

"It's a tough game and Villa Park is always a difficult place to go. It's a passionate crowd who get behind their team and we have to be ready for that.

"But we're playing well, so it will be an interesting game."