Will he deliver what Arsenal want and need?
So here we are again, my annual Christmas Eve post - something I really don't want to miss out on writing. Thankfully I'm not working again until 31st December so I have a few minutes in which to get this down before handing my computer back to the kids to track Father Christmas on Norad.
Given that there have been close to only half as many posts in the last 12 months there have been 67,000 (1.129 million since I started it) hits on the site in 2016 - that's significantly up, on average, compared to the last couple of years. Maybe the fewer postings has led to more people wanting to read something on a site they don't see too much of. Whatever the reason I am, as ever, delighted to see that anyone takes the time to read the nonsense I write. I've put out a couple of posts during the year in which I've explained the reasons for a decreased output and things will not change in 2017. The site is also part of the Highbury Library though posts getting on to the feed there are a bit hit and miss at the moment - I need to sort that if I can though I'm not remotely IT savvy.
Looking back at this time last year we were flying high in the table having just beaten Manchester City. This year we are probably feeling as though we're looking in the opposite direction having just lost to them. The fact is that it's not been a vintage year for Arsenal. We've had no trophy, obviously, but also the performances have been of a poor standard more often than not. The second half of last season was a car wreck for five months, lifted briefly by the win against Leicester and the last day capitulation of Spurs to make us runners-up in the Premier League once more. We then endured another typical summer transfer window, only to end up spending £70m+ but actually not making a star signing. Mustafi has played most out of the new signings but I'm still not convinced by him, while Xhaka is not the player we might have hoped and Lucas Perez hasn't been given his opportunity.
If I was picking my favourite moment from the year it has to be Danny Welbeck getting the winner against Leicester. The nature of the goal, coming in injury-time, sent the whole stadium in to pandemonium. Goals like that are the kind of things we live for as a football supporter. The noise, the people going mad, bodies flying everywhere, just amazing. At that point nobody cares about anything for a few seconds as football has lifted you to a different level of happiness. The lowest point was a week later at Old Trafford when Wenger and his players threw away the chance they'd given themselves by turning in the sort of performance that has become far too familiar in recent times.
My player of 2016 isn't easy to choose. The obvious person would be, I'm sure, Alexis but his form after Christmas last season was not good at all. So actually my player of 2016 for Arsenal is Laurent Koscielny. Given our lack of defensive nous that might seem a strange choice but, for me, without Koscielny we'd have been knackered well and truly. He has gone from strength to strength really and he is one of our most important players. If he was in a defence that was actually organised to play properly he would be considered as one of the finest central defenders in the game today.
All that remains now is for me to wish you all a very Happy Christmas. I hope Father Christmas delivers all that you want tonight and, for Arsenal, that things can change sufficiently both on and off the pitch for us to be where we should be with the players at our disposal. Have a great time.