Birmingham City’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the Carling Cup final really was well deserved.
The Blues went into the game as underdogs in most people’s eyes but they shocked the Gunners with a superb performance.
Birmingham put that much effort into the game that they looked exhausted by the end of the game.
They gave their all and it paid dividends. They hustled and harried the favourites and hardly gave them any space to create chances.
When Arsenal did have chances on goal Birmingham keeper Ben Foster denied them superbly. The ex-Manchester United keeper is no stranger to this trophy having won it twice as a player with the Red Devils.
The England international produced heroics all through the second half as Arsenal pushed for that all important second goal. However he kept them at bay brilliantly with athleticism and bravery. He is starting to fulfil the potential that was so clear at United and Watford on-loan.
He has proved a superb signing by Birmingham boss Alex McLeish. He could in fact prove to be one of his shrewdest signings. Foster has had a great season and will be hoping to push England number one Joe Hart for his position.
Birmingham have been accused of being a long ball side but they played some good attacking football against the Gunners. They did at times use the height of giant Serbian striker Nikola Zigic but they mixed it up at times.
The Blues victory was built on their good attacking first half display and a good rearguard action in the second half.
The victory was very much a team effort. Foster won man of the match but any of his teammates would have had a good claim. The likes of Lee Bowyer, goal scorer Nikola Zigic and Roger Johnson were all superb.
This performance was like that of the Birmingham from last season. If they can keep the momentum going from this match then they will soon drag themselves away from the Premier League relegation zone. The Blues currently find themselves above the relegation zone by two points.
Arsenal never really got going and again showed a lack of steel in their team. Without captain Cesc Fabregas they also lacked a leader to rally the troops. At times they looked like they had run out of ideas and in the end couldn’t find a way past the defiant Foster.
Arsenal turned up to this final just expecting to collect the trophy. They showed complacency and were punished for it. Five years without a trophy and this was their best chance to win one. The Gunners simply blew it.
It has almost become a monkey on their back now for Arsene Wenger and his team. Wenger must have walked under a lot of ladders or crossed the path of a lot of black cats to deserve his recent luck.
Arsenal only have themselves to blame for Obafemi Martin’s 89th minute winner though. Defender Laurent Koscielny and keeper Wojciech Szczesny got in an awful mess and the Polish keeper gifted Martin’s an easy goal.
Szczesny is a promising young keeper and has showed he has good ability in his brief Arsenal career. He made a horrendous match losing mistake yesterday but he has enough confidence to bounce back and become a top keeper.
He can’t take all the blame for the goal though Koscielny should have cleared the ball instead of pondering. He really didn’t help the youngster. A commanding centre-back would have taken control of the situation. The whole scenario proved that Arsenal are still in great need of a world-class centre-back and keeper.
Arsenal have shown confidence this season but this defeat could just knock that confidence. They will need to recover from this blow very quickly with crucial fixtures over the likes of Sunderland and Barcelona coming up in the next 10 days.
The search for a trophy goes on for Arsene Wenger and his team. It will now be really difficult for the Gunners to claim a trophy this season and Arsenal fans will again be questioning Wenger and his methods.
I am a big fan of Wenger and his philosophy but if I was an Arsenal fan I would now be worrying about where the next trophy is coming from.
Did Birmingham deserve to win the Carling Cup final?