Arsenal 1-2 Birmingham – 27/02/10 – (Carling Cup Final) 1 March, 2011Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
It’s probably about time I stopped avoiding writing this match report and just got it out the way. Sorry for the lateness by the way, I understand people like to read about my trips but you’ll understand the feelings behind putting this one off. What can you say really? I think everyone expected us to win the cup and it’s still a bit of a shock to me these past couple of days that I haven’t been able to change that tally of cups in the website header above. The more experienced Gooners of us might’ve guessed it though, I heard in the pub after the game that, that’s 5 out of 7 League Cup Final losses now, which is some record. Considering we’ve played the likes of Swindon, Luton and Birmingham now as part of that record it’s not something to be proud of.
There’s nothing we can do but pick our heads back up and get on with the three competitions we’re left in. A few rounds ago in the cup when United got knocked out and we became clear favourites I talked about it being must-win because losing to any of those teams would be quite moral damaging. Well we’ll just have to wait and see how that loss affects us but I’m hoping that it becomes a lesson learned and we make extra efforts to bounce back immediately from it. Having another match so soon after this one might turn out to be a good thing you know.
I should point out now that I’m not angry about Sunday, not in the slightest. I’m jut disappointed. Disappointed we didn’t win, disappointed we didn’t play to our best ability, disappointed we’ve lost another of our best players to injury and disappointed that we lost to such a horrible goal. There’s nothing that can be said about that 88th minute goal apart from it was a massive mistake, Birmingham had the biggest slice of luck in the club’s history and luckily for them a little cock up late on laid the trophy on a plate for them. If it was a decent goal then fair enough you have to say well done but to lose it like that is just sad.
My day started with an 8.30am alarm clock, which is unheard of territory on a Sunday for me, but unsurprisingly I found it pretty easy to get up on a day like last Sunday. I had to catch the 9.45am coach out of Bournemouth and I made it to Wembley Park for lunch time. It had been a glorious morning on the way up and the tweets from Gooners in London also sounded like they were looking forward to a typical sunny cup final. However some time whilst I was on the tube the clouds came out of nowhere and it gradually started pissing it down. Was it a sign that it wasn’t going to be our day? Maybe. Not to let it damped my spirits, pardon the pun, I found the corner of a pub umbrella to stand under until the time came to head into the ground.
The pre-match atmosphere was as you’d expect, lots of singing, drinking and dreaming of a cup-winning party. Inside the ground it was amazing too, apart from the price of the pints that is… It had been a long time since I’d been to an Arsenal final, in fact exactly four years previously in Cardiff for the Carling Cup Final. I was loving the surroundings and I was looking around Wembley looking for where the cup gets presented hoping we’d be up there at the end holding it high. In the end I never found where it was and I never stayed to see us walk up the famous steps.
We started the game quite slowly I thought. You could tell it was a final and we weren’t going to take too many risks. I kind of hoped that Wenger would send us out all guns blazing, I mean it was only Birmingham we were playing and I fancied us to scare them. In the end we allowed them into it and they opened the scoring. I seem to remember the move starting from Sagna sloppily giving the ball away and Koscielny having to clear that attack out for a corner. It might’ve not been that occasion but we were having one of those days were our passes seemed to be going everywhere. Anyway the corner came in, it was headed back towards goal and Zigic guided it past Szczesny. It was a bit crap to know we’d have to come from behind but I was confident we could, and we did.
Jack Wilshere almost got a great equaliser with his shot from outside the box hitting the bar but we did well to keep the attack going and what a finish from Robin for the goal. Just our luck though, he got injured in scoring it and was taken off early in the second half. He’ll be out for three weeks too, a massively important three weeks. It’s just the way it goes being an Arsenal fan though – we’ll lose a handful of our best players when they’re just getting into form.
In the second half we were much, much better. We had the control of the game and by far the majority of the attacks. I thought we’d got another goal for a second when Rosicky’s early drive went just passed the post. That was probably the closest we came in the end. Ben Foster had a good day in goal too.
Probably due to our constant attacking I thought the half flew by and I checked the clock to see we were running out of time to score. I was just about getting used to the idea of extra time and that’s when Birmingham scored. The silence around me compared with the sea of blue shirts jumping wildly opposite was something you never want to see but unfortunately, it’s football. The less said about the goal the better, you’ve all seen it, I just hope Koscielny and Szczesny learn from their mistakes. Laurent will probably learn now that despite what your ‘keeper is saying if the ball is loose in your box with two minutes to go in a cup final and the ball is clear for you to boot away, you fucking boot it away.
I stayed for the remaining few minutes and tried to shout the team on but when the whistle went I pulled my hood over my head and made my way into the queue for the stairs. I took a second to appreciate the players as they stood/sat/crouched all dejected on their own and then made my way back down Wembley way. I was in no mood to watch Birmingham celebrate and from what I’ve heard anyway the players didn’t take long to come appreciate the crowd either. I don’t really expect them to but there were some people that have come a long, long way for that game spending a whole lot of money and the least they could do is come give us a clap. To be fair they were just as gutted as we were and like most people in that end they were keen to get out of Wembley as quickly as possible.
I made it back to Bournemouth about midnight. My train from Waterloo wasn’t until 10pm you see as I’d given myself enough time for possible extra time, penalties and celebrations in case there was the need but in the end I missed out on all three of them so it meant four hours to kill in the pub afterwards.
So we lost, and that’s that. What now? Well, a lot now! We have Orient in the Cup tomorrow night with United away in the next round for the winners of that. We have the second leg of Barcelona in the Champions league going into that game with a 2-1 lead. And we have the Premiership, with United just losing at Chelsea tonight we are in touching distance of them and well and truly in a title race. Whether you’ve forgotten about Sunday or not it’s exciting times for Arsenal and we have to get back behind the team. We’re still on for the treble you know! ;)
The only disappointing thing though is the injuries we’ve picked up in the last week. As I mentioned already, RVP is out for a minimum of three weeks, Theo has probably another fortnight out and Cesc is still a doubt for Barcelona. It’s a bastard to lose such important players at times like these but there’s nothing we can do so it’s up to the others to fill their boots. Missing both Theo and Robin is a big blow so Bendtner and Chamakh really have to prove their worth; it’s time for Nicklas to show how good he really is and Marouane needs to find that form from early in the season again.
The old clichés like ‘you win some you lose some’ and ‘shit happens’ were invented for days like Sunday. There’s no point dwelling on it though so lets get behind the team tomorrow night and show we have the maturity to move on from defeat. I hope to be back at some point tomorrow with a preview for that game.
Thanks for reading, chin up fellow Gooners.