Arsenal 1 v Birmingham City 2

This was not in the script. After all their recent problems with the goalkeeper and defence, all seemed to be in place with Wojciech Szczesny claiming the number one spot at the Emirates. However, it was the Poland stopper who came for a ball that Laurent Koscielny tried to boot away, the miscommunication allowing Birmingham substitute Obafemi Martins to fire in the winner and into an open net. Birmingham had taken the lead through Nikola Zigic, but Arsenal levelled from Robin Van Persie’s 14th goal of the season.


The Gunners were without their influential captain Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott, and it showed. Jack Wilshere however enjoyed another strong midfield performance alongside Alex Song, but this was a disjointed Arsenal, one which looked nervous and edgy when the game was yelling out for a player in a red shirt to grab the game by the scruff of the neck.


Birmingham played a high line, with their plan to rush the Arsenal possession and fire long balls to Zigic. It worked just shy of the half hour mark, Arsenal didn’t deal with a corner and Zigic headed in. Bacary Sagna’s poor pass gave the ball away for the corner, and that was to prove to be costly.


Arsenal surged forward, Andrey Arshavin and Samir Nasri went close, but Ben Foster was not in the mood to be beaten. Six minutes before the break, Arsenal levelled. Arshavin popped up on the left, and found Wilshere. He thundered his shot into the bar, but the danger was not over. Arshavin found Van Persie who rifled in with his right foot, and sustained a knee injury for his troubles.


Arsenal started the second half brightly, but Foster continued to deny the Gunners and Nasri. in particular Three minutes after the re-start, Nasri started a swift move involving Van Persie, Sagna, but when Tomas Rosicky let fly, the ball traced just wide of the upright. Foster again denied Nasri, and it was all Arsenal going for the winner.


Nicklas Bendtner and Marouane Chamakh now came on, but City were not dead. Keith Fahey had hit the post, and with extra time looking ominous, Martins struck home as Szczesny and Kosceilny blundered in the most spectacular of fashions to let the trophy slip.