It was just over a decade ago. Someone in school had mentioned the English Premier League and how addictive it was. So I decided to check it out.

That Saturday evening, I dutifully switched on the TV. I don’t recollect what match it was though I have a vivid recollection that the other team wore yellow. It didn’t take long to figure out which of the two teams I would be supporting. The passing and understanding of the players in red and white was just phenomenal. Telepathic was the word.

And then, it happened. Three quick passes and the lanky forward was running into space. In a flash, he was past the last defender. He didn’t pause to control the ball or look at goal. Effortlessly, he curled the ball around the advancing goalkeeper. The ball lay spinning inside the far bottom corner as the goalscorer ran towards the Arsenal faithful, arms outstretched. I had just witnessed a classic Thierry Henry finish as I would later find out.

It was love at first sight.


The next week felt unusually long. Weekends always feel far away but that week, the wait was unbearable. Back then, we didn’t have the luxury of the Internet for match timings. I looked it up in the newspaper and was in front of the television in time for kick-off. I was in love. I knew it.

As the matches passed and the goals piled up, it was impossible not to love Arsenal’s brand of football: slick, suave and pacy. There was steel and there was style.

It was the perfect marriage of physicality and elegance. The likes of Patrick Viera and Sol Campbell barricaded the fortress while the attacking players marauded and plundered their opponents. Dennis Bergkamp with his heavenly grace and immaculate passing and Theirry Henry galloping at defenders, mesmerizing them with electric pace and trickery. They were all world class: Robert Pires, Jens Lehmann, Freddie Ljunberg. The entire team was sensational.

It only struck me after I’d watched quite a few matches. That this team didn’t seem to lose!

I think it was something the commentator mentioned about a winning streak. I noticed that it was always a win or a draw. With each passing match, I couldn’t believe it. Another weekend, another win. It became a formality. And it was always achieved in style.

But I was always concerned. At the beginning of every match, I would worry if this would be the first time I saw Arsenal lose a league match. Unbelievably, it never happened. The season finished in that fashion: wins and draws. The icing on the cake was sealing the championship at the home of the enemy: the 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane. Four games later, the Gunners had achieved immortality. An entire season unbeaten. The Invincibles were born.

It was often referred to as a dream run and like every dream, this one ended too. The streak would continue for nine more matches before it came to an end. There would be 49 matches in all, though I missed the initial few. I still remember how I felt after the 50th match. The pain was unbearable. This was definitely love.


The following few seasons were not as gratifying. After the FA Cup triumph in 2005, the club fell into crisis: the trophies disappeared and the best players left every summer. The trophyless streak stretched on and the jokes began. In the darkest moments, I sometimes wondered why I supported the Gunners. But then I would remember the Invincibles and where it all began. Having been witness to that period, all the defeats and exoduses in the world were not going to change how I felt about this team.

In fact, that season, Arsenal had been so sensational that instead of the usual silverware, the Premier League awarded the club a special golden replica trophy to commemorate their achievement.

Things have gotten better lately. Top class players have started arriving and so have the trophies. But no matter how good things get, I know for a fact that it will never be as great as the Invincibles. That was a once in a lifetime era.

Viera wins back possession. Finds Bergkamp. Who passes to Pires on the flank. Back with Bergkamp. Henryyyyyyyyyyy. GOAL! Yes, it used to be that simple!

But in case you thought it ended there, Arsenal fans in India are in for yet another treat. Ray Parlour and Sol Campbell are coming to Mumbai on the 21st of July to launch the PUMA Arsenal 2015-2016 kit and for the premiere of ‘The Invincibles’ documentary. You can also catch the new home Kit at PUMA Stores, and .