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Newcastle defender's viral video makes for essential Christmas viewing
FORGET Downtown Abbey or Doctor Who, if you're a Newcastle United supporter, chances are there's only one thing that's been essential viewing this Christmas.
Since appearing on the internet earlier this month, a video showing Newcastle fans extolling the virtues of Mike Williamson ahead of their side's 3-0 win over Crystal Palace has proved a viral success.
To the tune of “Mrs Robinson”, the supporters sing, “So here's to you Mike Williamson, the Geordies love you more than you will know”. There has also been a Twitter campaign to try to get the defender on the plane that will fly the England squad to next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil.
Both come with tongue firmly in cheek, but nevertheless underline the extent to which Williamson, previously one of the most unheralded names on the Newcastle team sheet, has emerged as a key performer this season, and was aired in the stands as the Magpies thrashed Stoke 5-1 on Thursday.
Williamson became aware of the tune when a number of his friends sent him messages about it, and the centre-half admits he spent his brief Christmas break surfing the internet so he could watch it himself.
“I've seen the chants and the campaign on Twitter,” said Williamson. “I got a lot of text messages from my friends over Christmas, and they were nearly all talking about the song. It's fantastic.
“The supporters here are so passionate, and it's great that they've taken me to their heart. I'm relishing the chance to play in front of them every time I pull on the shirt.
“I've watched the clip over Christmas and it made me laugh. It was great to see and hopefully they'll continue to sing it for the rest of the season because that'll mean I'm in the side playing well.”
Despite the availability of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Steven Taylor, Williamson has been a permanent fixture in Newcastle's starting XI ever since returning to the side at the half-time interval of September's 3-2 defeat at Everton.
Superb in this month's historic victory at Manchester United, the 30-year-old impressed again as the Magpies saw off Stoke on Boxing Day, albeit in a win that was aided by the opposition being reduced to ten men.
He will be back in the back four tomorrow as Newcastle face one of their toughest tests of the season so far. League leaders Arsenal visit St James', and with the likes of Olivier Giroud, Mezut Ozil and the in-form Theo Walcott in their ranks, the Gunners will pose a considerable threat.
Having beaten Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United in the last two months though, the Magpies will take on the Premier League's leading lights with nothing to fear.
“We couldn't be in any better shape to face Arsenal,” said Williamson. “All you can ask for is the momentum we've got, and the confidence is really flowing through the squad.
“We might need a bit of luck again, like I suppose we had against Stoke, but we know we'll be going out there with a team full of fantastic ability that's willing to work hard.
“We can think about getting three points from a fantastic team like Arsenal, and that's a great position to be in. It'll be two offensive teams looking to get the ball down, and it'll be great to watch.
“We've proved we can mix it with the best in the Premier League. It's a big ask to beat Arsenal, but if we work hard and make sure we're spot on, we can take the points.”
Most neutrals have been purring about Arsenal's attacking play this season, with the arrival of Ozil bolstering a squad that already boasted the likes of Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey.
Arsene Wenger's midfield is widely praised as the best in the league, but Newcastle's own central unit has been putting opposition sides to the sword on a regular basis in recent weeks.
Yohan Cabaye has performed superbly since a mooted move to Arsenal broke down in the summer, Cheik Tiote, who is available again tomorrow after suspension, is back to his best, while Hatem Ben Arfa caught the eye repeatedly as he made his first start for two months three days ago.
“People have been speaking about the strength of Arsenal's attack and midfield, but we look at what's in our dressing room and we're every bit as happy,” said Williamson. “The manager has complete faith in the squad and we have some fantastic players.
“It's definitely a squad effort as we have fantastic talent all over the pitch. It's nice to watch us at the moment. I was a spectator for most of the second half against Stoke and was able to watch our attacking players tear them to shreds. It's a great place to be at the moment and it's difficult for the manager to pick his starting XI.”
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