2020 has been a hell of a year.

It’s Christmas Eve, and having written and spoken so many words about the huge challenges that we’ve all faced, such as lockdowns, a virulent worldwide pandemic, the upheaval of society as we know it and, of course, Arsenal Football Club, I feel disinclined to add much to that tally today. We’ll have plenty of time for more of all that, I’m sure.

It’s a strange one this year. My daughter, who lives in Barcelona, can’t come home because of Covid-19. It’ll be the first time we’ve ever been apart at Christmas. You see those ads on telly where families that are apart connect via the magic of the Internet and they smile and laugh but you know it’s not the same. It can’t be the same.

I realise that many of you out there could be facing similar issues and I’m sorry if you are. I hope you can make the best of it, but it’s not nice. Nevertheless, I realise that so many families have gone through much worse this year, and my heart goes out to those left behind whose lives have been shattered by loss, not just inconvenienced because of this virus. We’re all still here, and that is the main thing.

Yet throughout 2020, in spite of all the headlines which have been terrifying and depressing for all kinds of reasons, most people have done their best to try and help others. To find a sense of shared responsibility and community. To look after each other as much as possible, whether that’s close to home or remotely. I’ve seen it, witnessed it, tried to be part of it in some small way, and that helps shine a light through the cloud that settled over the world this year.

It’s been like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, and it has been challenging in all kinds of ways. It doesn’t help when your football club decides to add to all of what’s going on with a miserable decline, but it’s worth remembering a few short months ago we were celebrating a cup final win at Wembley. We’re down, but we’re not out. We’ll be back. Don’t ask me when, or how, because I’m not some kind of magic man, but I know we will. We are The Arsenal, after all.

And I know that whatever ‘normal’ is in terms of how we live, we’ll get there too. Maybe it won’t be quite the same, but soon enough we’ll be able to celebrate, to congregate, to touch, to feel that surge of emotion run through you as the ball hits the back of the net and you turn to a random stranger to see that very same emotion all over his or her face and you jump up and down together in a football stadium for a few seconds and it’s great. I should caveat this by saying I can’t guarantee Arsenal will ever score a goal again, but the law of averages says that if we keep going we’ll get there soon enough.

I’m going to take a short break so there’s no Arsecast tomorrow (although we will have a Chelsea preview pod on Patreon), but normal service will resume on the 26th for a match we really need something from. As Arsenal fans the best present we could get this Christmas is a win on Saturday, so I guess it all depends if we’ve been naughty or nice, whether we’re visited by Satan Claus, or his much nicer brother.

So, whatever you’re doing this festive period, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I wish you the very best, however you’re going to do it. May you and yours have peace, good health and happiness.

Merry Christmas from all of us here at Arseblog, and from Archer and Lana (pictured above). Andrew.