Stephen Carr lifting the Carling Cup
Amid all the talk about Arsenal's trophy drought, the injuries of Walcott and Fabregas, and anything else regarding the Gunners, it seemed like the media forgot about Birmingham City. I heard statistics cited regarding how Arsenal would improve after winning the Carling Cup, almost as if they had already won it. It seemed that way at Wembley as well, Arsenal practically forgetting that they still had to defeat Alex McLeish's Birmingham.
Among all of the hype around Arsenal, Birmingham were extremely dangerous in the first minutes. Birmingham were denied a penalty in the second minute of the match when Lee Bowyer was expertly played through by Zigic, and Szczesny sliced through Bowyer's legs without getting near the ball. Yet instead of a penalty for Birmingham and a red for the Arsenal keeper, the linesman wrongly flagged for offside.
Birmingham eventually found the opener, with Zigic's header waking up Arsenal from their trophy-winning daydream. Szcesny left his line to punch the ball out of his box, challenging the tall figure of Zigic, but the Serbian got to the ball first, and flicked the ball past the Arsenal keeper and into Arsenal's empty net. An easy goal in the 28th minute, made easier thanks to Zigic's height. A smart decision by McLeish to start with the Serbian forward.
Martins tapping in the winnerArsenal were unable to do much against Birmingham, left with fast counter-attacks led by Nasri and Wilshere. The Englishman thundered a shot onto the Birmingham crossbar, with Arshavin taking the rebound and crossing for Robin van Persie to lash a volley into the far corner of the goal. An instinctive goal from van Persie, his well placed volley left Foster rooted to the line. The goal raised Arsenal's spirits just a few minutes before halftime.
In the second half Foster made some excellent saves, stopping Nasri and Bendtner from scoring a goal. Down at the other end, disaster struck for Arsenal in the 89th minute when Szczesny and Koscielny combined in failure. A long ball came over which either the defender should have cleared, or the keeper should have scooped up, yet both Arsenal players were too hesitant in their movements. The ball bounced off of the keeper's knee right to substitute Obafemi Martins, who tapped into the open goal for probably the easiest goal of his career.
The Birmingham City players celebrating after the final whistle
Birmingham City held on for four long minutes of injury time, and when the final whistle blew the entire set of Birmingham players, staff, and fans went crazy. The club has won its first major trophy since 1963, and back then the League Cup was barely considered a major trophy. That's a 48 year drought which McLeish ended, is that how long Arsenal are going to have to wait before they win a trophy? What are your thoughts on the Carling Cup final?