Once again Arsenal failed to capitalize on their superior possession and chances as Birmingham won their first major trophy since picking up the League Cup way back in 1963.
Obafemi Martins who is currently on loan from Rubin Kazan, grabbed the winner in the final stages of the game following a comedy of errors in the Arsenal box between Gunners goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and defender Laurent Koscielny.
The game itsself was entertaining if unspectacular and after Zigic had given the Blues a surprise first half lead it was Arsenal who dominated and it was no surprise when Van Persie equalised 6 minutes before half time.
Arsenal probably should have put the game beyond Birminghams reach with the chances they had but Ben Foster in the Birmingham goal was in brilliant form and his string of fine saves deservedly earned him man of the match and Birminghams resiliance was rewarded with their 89th minute winner.
Now Arsenal will have to regroup and focus onthe other three trophies they are still competing in, while Birmingham will probably use this as a launch pad to pull away from the relegation zone. They will also play in the Europa League in 2012 whicch will give their fans a rare taste of European football.
The Silverware cleaner at the Emerites stadium has not been overworked of late , however Arsenal will be hoping to end their 5 year wait for a trophy.
They face fellow Premier League side Birmingham City in the League Cup Final and will be hoping to improve on their poor record in these finals having only won 2 of their 6 attempts, including a loss to Swindon Town back in 1969. Birmingham on the other hand have not had the Gunners success and their only major trophy was the League Cup back in 1963 when they beat neighbours Aston Villa 3-1 over 2 legs.
Arsenal have in past seasons not given this competition the respect it deserves, however this year they have looked determined to win it and with a strong squad named for todays final they are justifiable favourites.
Our view is that they will win by the odd goal so ending their trophy drought. They are still in with a chance in all four major competitions this year and like Manchester United and Chelsea in the past the confidence gained by having the first on the shelf could spur them on to bigger an better things.
This tie looked all over at half time after West Ham had dominated play and taken a 3-1 aggregate lead thanks to a lovely strike by Carlton Cole, however as has been seen all to frequently by West Ham fans this season, the game is never won until the end, and so it was again here.
The second half was a complete transformation with Birmingham by far the better team and it was no surprise when West Ham old boy Lee Bowyer pulled a goal back after 59 minutes. West ham looked increasingly edgy there after and when defender Roger Johnson leveled the aggregate score the writing was on the wall for the Hammers.
In injury time Craig Gardner who had rattled the woodwork a couple of times earlier made it time lucky when firing home the winner to set up a Final clash with Arsenal. This is Birmingham’s first major final in a long time and on their second half form they will give Arsenal a good game.
West Ham take a slender 2-1 lead into tonight’s League Cup semi final second leg tie at Birmingham, as manager Avram Grant seeks to emulate his achievements of last season when he took eventually relegated Portsmouth to Wembley in the FA Cup Final.
West Ham are having a poor league season but have been terrific in the Cup winning their last 6 ties and despite being without Frederic Piquionne who was suspended due to his controversial dismissal for celebrating with fans at the weekend and Victor Obinna also suspended they will be in good heart for this game.
Birmingham are not having a great season either and are coming off the back of a 5-0 drubbing at Manchester United at the weekend. They will be without on loan midfielder David Bentley as he is cup tied but Cameron Jerome should be fit again after his hamstring injury.
This could be a close game however we expect the Hammers to hold out and make it an all London Final.
After several barren years Arsenal fans can not reasonably expect their Silverware drought to end as they are in the final of the League Cup where they will be strong favourites to beat the winners of the Birmingham West Ham semi.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg Arsenal managed to overcome a plucky Ipswich thanks to three second half goals from Bendtner, Koscielny, & Fabregas who grabbed the third in the 77th minute.
Ipswich clung on for 60 minutes through a combination of stout defending and poor Arsenal finishing, however on the Night they were deservedly second best, however on this form they should be safe enough in the Championship this season.
The attendance was an impressive 59,387.
Looking at the stats you would be excused for thinking that the scoreline was a typo – but its true Birmingham City are into the League Cup Semi Finals at the expense of last years runners up and bitter local rivals Aston Villa.
In a fiercely contested game Birmingham struck first with their first real chance when a clumsy challenge on Lee Bowyer led to a penalty, which Sebastian Larsson duly dispatched. Villa soon equalised and looked clearly the better team for long periods creating plenty of chances, however they did lack that cutting edge and ended up paying the price when Nikola Zigic bundled a hopeful cross in with less than 5 minutes left to make the score 2-1. Villa did plenty of huffing and puffing in the frantic final minutes but it was to no avail and now Birmingham are closing in on their second ever major trophy having only ever won the League Cup, that back in 1963 ironically against Villa.
They will now face West Ham in the 2 legged semi final after the Hammers dispatched holders Manchester United (well their reserve team anyway) 4-0 earlier in the week.
The game was slightly marred when ecstatic Birmingham fans invaded the pitch however the police were soon in control of the situation and no injuries were reported.
A repeat of last years final is still on the cards as Manchester United and Aston Villa avoided each other in the quarter final draw. Manchester United have a winnable tie away to West Ham, while Aston Villa have a local derby at neighbours Birmingham which should guarantee a huge crowd.
Arsenal will be happy enough with Wigan at home and if Wenger decides to put out a few 1st teamers they should be in the Semis.
The most intriguing tie is Ipswich v West Brom and given both will be going all out to win this one it will give an indication of how great the gap is becoming between the Championship and the money bags Premier League.
The draw is below with our predicted last 4 marked *
*Arsenal v Wigan
Birmingham v Aston Villa*
West Ham v Manchester United*
Ipswich v West Brom*
League Cup Holders Manchester United took another step towards retaining the trophy with a hard fought win over fellow Premier Leage side Wolves last night. United fielded a largely second string team and the Manchester contingent in the 46,083 must have had a few nervous moments as a plucky Wolves side twice pegged them back and looked like snatching the game before late substitute Javier Hernandez popped up with a 90th minute winner to send the majority of the crowd home happy.
In the other games Giant Killers Brentford & Northampton finally succumbed losing at Birmingham and Ipswitch respectively. However Brentford did give their premiler league opponents a bit of a fright leading right up until the 92nd minute before conceeding an equlaizer and hen eventually losing 4-3 on penalties.
Leicester and Swansea both lost leaving Ipswich as the only non premier league side currently through to the weekend draw. The only other team who can break the premier league stranglehold, Burnley play away at Aston Villa tonight in a battle of the Claret & Blues.
The Carling (League Cup) Fourth round draw has thrown up another big game for Newcastle who having won at Chelsea in the previous round now get the chance for a London double when they entertain Arsenal. This is one of three all Premier league ties with holders Manchester United having a winnable home tie with Wolves and West Ham taking on Stoke.
The remaining League One & Two teams have had mixed fortunes following their 3rd round heroics with Brentford being rewarded for their penalty shoot out win over Everton with a trip to Birmingham who have the longest unbeaten home record in the Premier League. Although not the most glamorous of ties it is still a nice reward for the London club.
Northampton who produced the result of the third round beating Liverpool on penalties at Anfield will be slightly disappointed at being drawn away to Ipswich. Still this tie at least guarantees that a non Premier League club will make the Quarter Finals, and given how the draw has fallen there is a good chance the winner will be the only non PL representative.
The full draw is:
Newcastle v Arsenal
Birmingham v Brentford
Wigan v Swansea
Aston Villa v Burnley
Leicester v West Brom
Man Utd v Wolves
West Ham v Stoke
Ipswich v Northampton
The League Cups match up of the round lived up to its billing as Newcastle finally grabbed a 4-3 win at Chelsea thanks to a last gasp goal from Shola Ameobi. An expectant crowd of 41,511 didn’t have long to wait for the game to get going and it was no surprise when Patrick van Aanholt fired Chelsea ahead after 6 minutes. The lead lasted until the 27th minute, and a further 1st half goal sent Newcastle in 2-1 ahead at half time. Ameobi fired Newcastle 3-1 ahead early in the second half, and with Chelsea down to 10 men thanks to running out of substitutes the game looked over. However Anelka had other ideas and he pulled a goal back in the 70th minute and then fired home a penalty with 3 minutes left to tie the scores.
Then the final twist, with extra time beckoning and Chelsea starting to look like taking control Shola Ameobi popped up with a glancing header from a corner to grab the winner.
Chelsea will feel slightly unlucky having rattled the post from Ferreira with the scores at 3-3 and can point to the fact they played much of the second half with only 10 men, however the record books will show Newcastle as the winners and thats all that matters to the Toon army who will know the League Cup offers their only realistic chance of Silver Ware this season.