Columnists, Sports

Tiki Taka: My top 6 Arsenal moments

Being an Arsenal fan is a personality trait. My 12 years of supporting the club have been a wild journey, a complete emotional roller coaster. Here’s my list of the most memorable moments, for right or for wrong, that I have seen as a Gooner.

6. Arsenal vs. Leeds United, 2012

On the face of it, this game looked like a typical FA Cup bout that Arsenal would have been expected to breeze through. But add to this the storyline of our record goalscorer Thierry Henry making a return to the club in the twilight of his career, and the whole dimension of the game changed.

The game was going to kick off at 3 a.m. Indian time, and given that it was a school night, my parents once again made me prioritize my education over my fandom. My excitement got the better of me, though, and I woke up at 5 a.m., didn’t check the score and sat in my dark living room to watch the game.

When Henry scored the late winning goal, I shed a tear. I watched in amazement as he and every other Arsenal player on the field celebrated with unbridled joy. The King was back. After all those YouTube montages of him I’d seen, it was nice to see him in the present day.

5. Manchester United vs. Arsenal, 2011

The scars are still healing from this 8-2 thrashing at Old Trafford in Manchester.

4. Chelsea vs. Arsenal, 2018

Watching a game in person at a stadium is magical, but watching it from the away end of the stadium of your biggest rivals is priceless. I went alone to the game, but not for a second did I feel lonely. There’s this us-versus-them mentality that comes over you when you enter the away end.

It was Arsenal manager Unai Emery’s second game in charge, and the Gunners recovered from an early Chelsea blitz to go into halftime having come back from two goals down. Marcos Alonso, of course, went on to win the game for The Blues — but I’d seen enough to know that my club was in safe hands.

I truly felt a part of Unai’s Red Army that evening. Meeting Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos in the stands made the evening even more memorable.

3. We’ve got Ozil!

I remember exactly where I was when Mesut Ozil signed for Arsenal in 2013: my mom’s red car, 10th grade, on my way home from after-school math. I remember banging my hand against the car roof, and repeatedly refreshing the BBC Sport homepage in case I was reading it wrong.

It doesn’t matter that he hasn’t won too much — Ozil will always have a special place in my and every Gooner’s heart.

2. (tie) Arsenal vs. Leicester City, 2016

When Danny Welbeck scored, I ripped my shirt off and ran berserk around my living room. An injury-time winner after being a goal down? This wasn’t the Arsenal I was used to. Just when you think they’re down and out, this club sucks you back in, making you hope.

And just when your hope starts to turn into reality, they bring you back down to Earth. We went on to lose the league that season to this same Leicester team. Supporting Arsenal is a truly humbling experience.

2. (tie) Arsenal vs. Chelsea, 2017

Watching with your dad as your team defeats its staunchest rivals in an FA Cup final? Priceless. I lost my voice that day, and my throat was sore for a week after, but it was well worth it. Aaron Ramsey, you beauty! It was free hugs season in the stands of Wembley Stadium on that sunny May evening.

1. Hull City vs. Arsenal, 2014

When the final whistle of this FA Cup final blew, I cried. Nine years of no silverware was wiped away with one swipe of Ramsey’s boot in extra time.

In that moment, all the pain and embarrassment the club had put me through was wiped away. And of course, because it was Arsenal, we had to win with some drama. It was passion, it was magic, it was pure Arsenal.

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