Destiny beckons :)

February has always been one of my favourite months. I mean, it was when I was born, of course I’m going to have a soft corner for it! However, since the year 2008, I have also been aware (rather uneasily) of a bit of a “jinx” surrounding the month – particularly around the last week, which is when my birthday is. The jinx refers to football, and Arsenal. It all started on February 23, 2008. Arsenal, sitting pretty at the top of the table, were playing Birmingham City at St. Andrews. A win would guarantee a firmer hold over the rest of the title rivals, and put the Gunners eight points clear at the summit. That day was also my 19th birthday. And incidentally, it will also be remembered as the day when Arsenal’s Eduardo Da Silva suffered that horrible leg break, the Gunners let Birmingham equalise deep into injury time, William Gallas infamously had his crying “sit-down” on the St Andrews pitch post the final whistle, and unfortunately it saw the slide of Arsenal into fourth place by the end of the season.

I didn’t think anything of it, apart from it being extremely unlucky that one of the strongest memories of my 19th birthday would be the images of Eduardo’s splintered tibia and fibula. And 2009 was definitely not as bad as 2008. But the month did not yield us even a solitary Premier League win, forcing us to be satisfied with a 1-0 victory over AS Roma at home in the Champions League, and a 4-0 win over Cardiff City at the Emirates in the FA Cup. However, the return of Eduardo in style, with 2 goals scored was one of the most heartening and heart-warming images for Gooners around the world. But, little did we know, that his previous red-hot form on that return from injury, would in fact never be fully restored, even decreasing, as sad as it still is to admit.

2010 however was another blow. It was February 27 and Arsenal were playing away to Stoke at the Britannia Stadium. The fact that we went on to win the match 3-1 showed just how much we’d learned from our previous Birmingham experience. But the ugly truth was that yet another leg was broken and yet another Arsenal player had to be stretchered off the pitch. That it was the young Welshman, Aaron Ramsey, who had been in great form all season, just made it worse to bear. I am sure, no Gooner will ever forget these images – neither of Dudu, nor of Ramsey.

So, this time, in 2011, when yet another Arsenal-Stoke encounter was scheduled for my birthday, you cannot fault me for being extremely apprehensive, and even a bit scared. A professional 1-0 victory and no serious injuries did calm my nerves, and even got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, the jinx is starting to lift. But then I heard about Walcott’s ankle sprain, and Fabregas’ tweaked hamstring – minor injuries that nonetheless prevent them from playing against Birmingham City at Wembley tomorrow, in the first show-piece of the season.

But, jinx or not, the Gunners are as close as they possibly can be to the first trophy since the May of 2005. And ultimately, no amount of superstition and silly worrying is going to matter. What will matter is their never-say-die spirit, their determination and hunger to win, their self-belief, and their strong desire to repay the love and support of all the fans, as well as the faith and belief Le Prof has invested in them. They certainly deserve it on the strength of performances and a new found steel in their attitude this season. They also deserve it for sticking to Wenger’s and Arsenal Football Club’s philosophy of how the game should be played, and giving supporters, haters and neturals some beautiful football in the process.

It all comes down to what happens in the 90 plus minutes tomorrow at Wembley. I am going to be a nervous wreck of a Gooner Girl, and emotionally drained by the end of it, irrespective of the result. It’s games like these that I live for, that we all dream for when it comes to “our team.” It is their time. Destiny beckons for this group of youngsters and others alike. COME ON YOU GUNNERS!!!

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