Arsenal v Sheffield United. Emirates Stadium. Carling Cup. September 23, 2008.
I remember the day as if it were yesterday. As an old buddy, his father-in-law and I watched the rampant Arsenal youngsters (featuring Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Song and Francis Coquelin) rip a fairly accomplished Sheffield United team to shreds, I can clearly recall turning toward him in our lower tier seats and saying, "one day, we will realize how lucky we are to have supported this team."
And as I took in every possible Arsenal game I could during my two-year stint in London, that same line often played over in my head.
It is truly a privilege to support a team like Arsenal. A team that always plays to win, to play attacking football and to score goals. With youthful innocence, zest and exuberance. In a truly world-class stadium. A club that is run professionally, responsibly and profitably. Under a manager who, for me, will go down as the greatest of all time, even if he never wins another trophy.
There were many other memorable afternoons and nights at the Emirates, numerous 4-0s, 5-0s, 5-1s, 6-1s ...you get my drift, I'm sure. Games that gave us footballing nirvana. Games that made me scream "Ooh to be a Gooner" and "Oh Arsenal we love you" with genuine pride and joy.
But as with everything else in life, balance had to be restored. For every set of uplifting victories, there has to be a devastating loss or draw. And because, over the past 15 years, Arsenal have been a winning team fighting for trophies, the significance of each adverse result is magnified, especially in cup competitions.
As I look back over the Arsene Wenger years, here is list of 20 games that I have watched either in person or on television, that still make me cringe every time I think about them. Games that I wish I could erase from my memory forever. Games that were season-changers and, in some cases, career terminators.
They say that time is the best healer. Well, all I can say is that in my case, having recalled these 20 games, there's still a lot of healing left to be done...