A season defining weekend awaits fans of Arsenal in Bengaluru
If you are an Arsenal and a Bengaluru FC supporter, then this is probably the most important weekend of your life. The former play a FA Cup final on Saturday night, the latter battle it out on Sunday with Mohun Bagan to lift the I-League trophy for the second time in a row.
It really can’t get any better than this. 90 minutes could end in either sheer elation or total depression. There’s nothing in between. That feeling of walking down the road to the stadium; seeing your club’s colours adorning the streets, fellow supporters chanting at the top of their voices is nothing short of goosebumps.
All those months of keeping your head up high when you lost to a team that was the better team on the day. Going down to Swansea 0-1 at home or having your three-game unbeaten run end at the hands of your fiercest rivals at the Salt Lake Stadium. The madness and mayhem that accompanies the final day of the season promises either daydreams or nightmares for the rest of your summer.
Being a fan of either of the two teams is stressful enough. But supporting both these teams is terrifying. You wake up in the middle of the night dreaming of a last minute Benteke strike that slips through Szczesny’s hands and goes into the goal. Or Robin Singh hitting the crossbar as the referee blows the whistle signalling full time.
Arsenal’s season will be defined by what goes down at Wembley on Saturday night. Winning the FA Cup two years in a row will unquestionably quieten a lot of the ‘Wenger-Out Brigade’ and give the players confidence, definitely something that will keep them going.
As for Bengaluru FC, they have one of the best squads in the I-League right now. No one, even in their wildest dreams, would have thought it would literally come down to the wire. If you would have told anyone at the start or even mid-way through the season that the title would be decided on the final day, they’d have laughed it off. No guesses on who’s laughing now.
Victory for both teams would mean they retain their trophies for the second year in a row – no fan could ask for anything more than that!
Thoughts about the two games have dominated your mind throughout the week. Waves of optimism and exhilaration, bouts of nervousness and panic. I have spent the entire week reminiscing and reliving the moment of pure joy when Arsenal and Bengaluru FC lifted a trophy last season. The anticipation has made it difficult to sit still at work.
I keep running various scenarios in my head – Giroud scoring the winner, nudging the ball gently into the back of Aston Villa’s net; Ralte making a spectacular save in injury time to hold Mohun Bagan off. The possibilities are endless.
At Wembley or the Kanteerava stadium in Bangalore, amidst thousands of equally crazy fans and the continuous flashing of cameras, you feel as if you are at the centre of the universe. You sense your head spinning, delirious with anticipation of what’s to come next. For those few hours, everything else is forgotten. It’s one football match which can make or break your team’s season.
The stakes are high. Match day is almost here. Must-win games for both teams. You can see your sensibility and logic going of the window; all that matters is seeing your team win. The anxiety is killing, making your stomach churn as you approach the stadium. As your heart continues to beat faster, all you want to do is just get over with this torture and sink back into your seat, hopefully having seen your beloved team lift the trophy.
This weekend is going to be tough. If any one of my two teams lose, I will not be able to able to celebrate with as much gusto as I will otherwise. I can only chew my nails, cross my fingers and do every other superstitious act I don’t even believe in to make this the best football-ing weekend of my life.
And when it’s time, there’s no doubt where I’ll be – Arsenal on Saturday, Bengaluru FC on Sunday.