Den and Diaby have to turn glimpses into glory

By Avenell Dave

Who would have bet on Denilson firing in our opening goal on Saturday?

Until that point, we hadn't done a huge amount to suggest this was going to be an easy afternoon and the lack of a quality striker was conspicuous.

Congratulations to Eduardo for his goal and a couple of moments of magic, though - hopefully it will help him find his long lost mojo. We know he can do it, but it's been missing a while now.

You have to be a pretty confident individual to even try your luck from the distance Denilson shot from, and with RvP's sorry free kick record in recent years, the Brazilian probably wouldn't have even got a chance if the Dutchman was fit.

Even Le Boss was surprised Denilson took it but with that pace and accuracy, maybe he should be added to the dead ball roster. We haven't exactly glowed from set pieces in recent years.

One thing that struck me about Denilson is how more adventurous he has become in his passing.

There was a time when he had the best pass completion rate in world football, having never made a pass more than three feet in any direction except forward.

Whether it is down to confidence or coaching, the pass he made for Theo Walcott late on says it all about how much that part of his game is developing and that's to be applauded.

The second half was all about Abou Diaby and I take my hat off to him for being so dominant and showing us what he probably does in training all the time to convince Arsene Wenger to play him.

Someone said to me that maybe he is just better when Cesc Fabregas isn't available, but we had three months of that last season and he didn't play as well as he did on Saturday.

And that's the frustration isn't it?

Alright, so Hull City are hardly world beaters and Phil Brown will probably find himself returning to the Championship unless they can get Jimmy Bullard fit soon, but even so, you can only beat what's in front of you.

Sunday's game becomes pivotal for us.

Hopefully Cesc and Armand Traore will return but we will need to be at our very best to beat a Villa side who are 11 or 12 games unbeaten and are without only the awful Emile Heskey compared to our injury frailties.

Villa have pace aplenty and the guile to pull us apart while a win would do so much for our confidence and title credentials.

It's up to the likes of Denilson and Diaby, should they play on Sunday, to show that Saturday's showing was not a one off and that they can dominate in the big games as well.

Of the established top four, we had the best weekend again for the second time running and if things continue like this, we'll be right there at the end.

A word too about Manuel Almunia.

Still don't rate him, still think he's one of the worst five goalkeepers in the Premier league, and Giovanni's body language always hinted that he wasn't going to score.

That said, he's bought himself at least another half dozen games with a penalty save and I genuinely hope he can allay the severe doubts I have about him.