In case you’ve been living in a sound proof and climate controlled cave (so….working in an office) for the last three weeks, you’ve probably noticed it’s almost Christmas. This fact has certainly not escaped Arsene Wenger, who has well and truly found his Zen place this holiday season despite a volume of player injuries that would only be rivaled by a geriatrics clinic. Wenger has basically said he’d like to frame a large collage of snapshots spanning the last four years – which he considers his best years at Arsenal – and fix it squarely against the backboard of the trophy cabinet (we might have to move an Emirates Cup to the left just a few inches to make room but otherwise readjusting recent trophies shouldn’t be a problem). All joking aside however, Wenger’s point of satisfaction is certainly merited as he’s got to be the only manager in the last five years to have achieved solvency in the transfer market while at the same time keeping his club in the top four. And while the silverware has not been plentiful, let me be the first to say some more than satisfactory performances have been on display over these last four years, the kind that the likes of Benitez, Mourinho, Ancelotti, or even the great Sir Alex could not duplicate at twice our budget (which I believe is safe to say, considering their respective clubs consistently operate with at least three times the budget we do). So, tip of the hat to you, AW (cue “Arsene Wenger Chorus”). But do me a favor and fill that space in the trophy cabinet with something a little shinier…

At least Wenger’s got his aestheticism to keep him warm on a cold December the 25th, which is more than I can say for Steve Bennett, a referee that seems bound and determined to rob anyone and everyone of everything that is held near and dear. I only hope for the sake of his children he doesn’t play Santa this Christmas morning, otherwise Steve Bennett Junior’s going to have an initial two-match ban for opening a present out of turn and an additional three-match extension for looking at his father sideways afterward. Bennett’s assessment that Silvestre had tugged Fagan’s shirt last Saturday was a judgment call that was not only appalling in its inaccuracy but also woefully irrelevant, given the fact that Stephen Hunt’s cross was hit miles over every one of the 22 players on the field. At least my (FORMER!) man-crush Manuel Almunia had the presence of mind to do a Thomas Sorensen and run half the distance to Giovanni before stopping his quite pitiful spot kick. This of course set the stage for our sometimes brilliant, sometimes suicidal, often clumsy Abou Diaby. Understandably eager to contribute to the Christmas party atmosphere that was developing after the comical efforts of Hunt and Giovanni minutes earlier, the always-nervous Frenchman fell back on his tried-and-true Patrick Vieira-impression (he only does it about once every year but it always seems to impress the guests, so why not) and proceeded to outmuscle the entire Hull defense before setting up one goal and then splendidly taking another himself. If only we could get this kind of holiday revelry from him on a weekly basis…

Hopefully Diaby can now do his post-Christmas-Villa impression this Sunday, bearing in mind that he had a good performance a year ago against Martin O’Neill’s side before we managed to hemorrhage two goals and two points late on. It will certainly be a match to separate the men from the boys when it comes to top four status, so eat well over the next few days, avoid belligerent family members (and Steve Bennett) and save all of your nerves for the crucial meeting on Sunday. Have a Merry Christmas, Arsenal Review USA will be waiting for you on the other side!

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