Goodbye 2020

As I lay dozing in bed this morning, I was thinking of today’s blog. It’s so ingrained in my routine now that’s often what happens. It’s just there in my subconscious.

What will I write about this morning?

Some part of my brain thought about a post which looked at the best bits of 2020. The indomitable spirit of people in the face of adversity and all that. Trying to make the best out of things. Arsenal winning the cup. That kind of thing.

Now that I have coffee my actual brain is engaged and I’m not going to do that. Not because I don’t appreciate that sentiment, or us winning the cup, but nobody needs it. Let’s be honest. 2020 has been an absolute pox of a year.

It has been an [insert your own Arsenal nightmare here*] of a year.

*Some suggestions:

It has been a William Gallas as Arsenal captain – wearing the number 10 shirt too – of a year.

It has been an 8-2 at Old Trafford of a year.

It has been a Wayne Bridge goal in the 2004 Champions League of a year.

It has been a three year deal for Willian of a year.

And so on. It’s a really multi-purpose way of describing it.

That isn’t to be trite about it either. I know that many of you out there reading this have suffered throughout 2020 in more significant ways than football heartbreak. There are people no longer with us who should be with us and I’m so sorry about that. The thing I’ve found most depressing this year is the idea that because Covid-19 is something that more greatly affects the vulnerable, the rest of us should carry on as normal and not worry so much.

I simply don’t understand that mindset. How we care for the elderly, those with underlying conditions, and people who are at risk is what truly defines us. I can’t get my head around objecting to the mild inconvenience of wearing a mask when going to the supermarket when so many people and families have suffered genuine loss. We all have a responsibility to those close to us, and beyond.

As cases in Ireland rocket upwards again, as they are in many parts of the world, it remains incumbent on us all to do what we can to help stop the spread of the virus. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Limit your contacts. Maintain social distancing as much as possible. The vaccine is coming, but we’re not out of the woods yet. It’s also possible – and in some cases hugely appropriate – to be dismayed and angry at the way our respective governments and administrations have handled the situation, but still do our own bit on a personal level.

I mentioned the FA Cup win. That was probably the highlight of the year for me. I’ve seen people suggest that perhaps it was counter-productive, that it raised expectations around Mikel Arteta and where we are as a football club too high, too soon. There might be an element of truth to that, but frankly I’m not interested. Nor would I change it one bit.

We beat those Chelsea bastards 2-1 at Wembley. It was sad we couldn’t be there, and I was sad I didn’t get to hug my mates when the goals went in and when the final whistle sounded, but it was still brilliant to win the old trophy – adding to our record number of wins.

I still go back and replay this from time to time and it makes me smile.

I mean, I don’t particularly like David Luiz and I don’t especially dislike Olivier Giroud, but as a moment of sheer football comedy it’s right up there. Perhaps it says something about this year that a very handsome man shrieking after being elbowed in the back by a bloke who looks, and sadly too often plays, like Sideshow Bob is a highlight, but there you go. You take what you can get.

The important part was lifting the trophy, winning the cup, and we did that. We were absolutely right to enjoy it, to feel lifted and optimistic because of it, and even if things haven’t been great subsequently, it shouldn’t diminish what was a really fun day or a great achievement on a sporting level. Our celebrations were remote, digital, and so on, but they were still as real as if we’d been there. Just different. Not the same, not as good, but still pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Traditionally tonight is a night when we celebrate together. To see out one year, to celebrate the incoming one, to look forward with hope and to dream about the good things it might bring. This year will be different. Here in Ireland everything is closed. No bars. No restaurants. No clubs. It’s not the same, but it’s only one night in one year and the important thing is that we’re all around to get together when things return to some kind of normality. Just think of it like a FA Cup final taking place on the last day of the year at midnight, each bong of the clock is an Olivier Giroud scream or a beautifully chipped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang winner.

Please take care.

I think the early part of 2021 is going to be just as challenging and difficult as most of this year was, but there is light at the end of tunnel.

I just want to say thank you to all of you today. Doing the blog, the podcast, and all the stuff we do here on Arseblog, has really helped me during 2020. The routine of it, especially during the lockdown when there was no football for three months, was enormously beneficial to me, so you guys reading and listening and so on were so important. Thank you.

In spite of all the difficulties of 2020, there have been countless moments and examples of goodness, community, selflessness, decency, and so on in which we’ve seen the very best of people. Let’s not forget that.

From all of us here at Arseblog, I want to wish you and yours a happy and, most importantly, healthy 2021.

Talk to you next year ?

❤ Andrew.

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