Arsenal’s first final in four years resulted in a heart-breaking loss for the men in red and white.
We entered the match with high hopes, knowing that we had a golden chance to end our six year trophy drought. Following our convinving 3-0 win at St. Andrews earlier in the year, the Arsenal boys seemed to be getting a little complacent, remarking on who would lift the trophy that was still to play for.
Arsenal were without captain Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott, both picking up injuries against Stoke City four days previous to the final. Arshavin and Rosicky joined Nasri and van Persie in attack, with Song and Wilshere sitting infront of our defence consisting of Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy and Szczesny.
Arsenal had a strong line-up, but as Arsenal learnt in the following 90 minutes, games aren’t won on paper.
Birmingham City had an immideate chance after Zigic found Lee Bowyer, the midfielder raced through on goal and was fouled by Arsenal ‘keeper Szczesny, but Arsenal were fortunate the linesman ruled out the chance (wrongly) for offside.
Arsenal reacted quickly in this incredibly open game, and had a clear shot on goal after Samir Nasri threaded through Andrey Arshavin. The Russian pulled off an exquisite turn, but his tame shot was saved comfortably.
Another chance was created for Arsenal single-handedly by Samir Nasri, who delicately danced through a sea of Birmingham players, though his shot was blazed wide left of Foster’s goal.
Despite Arsenal’s higher possession and shot count, it was Birmginham City who took the lead.
Former Arsenal midfielder Seb Larsson whipped in a corner, after being helped on, it found the head of target man Nikola Zigic who nodded Birmingham City into the the lead.
Birmingham City goal:
Arsenal 0-1 Birmingham City
Arsenal responded like lighting to the devestating blow they had just recieved. A perfect cross by Sagna found a straining Robin van Persie, but the Dutchman could only head wide.
A couple of half-chances for either side elapsed, before a swift counter-attacking move resulted in a classic Arsenal goal.
Arshavin found Jack Wilshere, and the midfielder’s long-range (by Arsenal standards) shot rattled the crossbar. The ball returned to Arshavin, whose neat chip was found by red-hot striker Robin van Persie meeting the ball on the volley with his back towards goal giving Arsenal the equaliser in spectacular fashion.
Arsenal 1-1 Birmingham City
Robin van Persie
After the break, both teams looked intent on winning the Carling Cup.
Sagna crossed in for Rosicky whose half-volley swerved wide, but clear shots on goal were few and far between.
Birmingham City’s Fahey struck the inside of the post with a powerful effort, as both teams’ resilience was tested with the final whistle drawing closer.
Arsene Wenger bought on Chamakh and Bendtner in an attempt to further pile the pressure on Birmingham’s goal, but heroic defending from the team in Blue denied Arsenal a breakthrough.
Alex McLiesh bough on a player of his own, Obafemi Martins, who, in the 89th minute, broke the hearts of every Arsenal fan watching.
A lack of communication from Koscielny and Szczesny led to Martins with the ball at his feet and an empty goal, to win Birmingham City the Carling Cup.
Birmingham City goal:
Arsenal 1-2 Birmingham City