Birmingham City 1 Arsenal 1: match report

27 March 2010 05:20
It was on this stage that, two years ago, Arsenal's title challenge went up in smoke, as Eduardo was carried off with his fibula protruding through his sock and William Gallas' captaincy was left in tatters after his now-notorious sit-down protest.

It might not have been as dramatic this time around, but Arsenal's hopes of taking the title this year were dented to a degree nevertheless, a last-minute Birmingham City goal from Kevin Phillips cancelling out Samir Nasri's solo effort.

 Related ArticlesPremier League tableChelsea 7 Aston Villa 1Birmingham City v Arsenal: match previewBlackburn 2 Birmingham 1Bendtner doubtful for Birmingham tieArsenal to lean on Sol CampbellGiven that neither Manchester United or Chelsea managed to take more than a point from their respective fixtures at St Andrews this season, a 1-1 draw here is hardly an embarrassment for Arsene Wenger, but after Chelsea's 7-1 rout of Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge, the Arsenal manager will not take much comfort from that. Especially considering Nasri's excellent solo effort nine minutes from time had seemed to have boosted their title aspirations nicely.

This was the first time that Arsenal have returned to St Andrews since Eduardo's injury, and so unsurprisingly this match became part soap opera, part pantomime. Birmingham supporters remembered Wenger's reaction then, and his refusal to let the matter go now, and they greeted him with an enormous jeer and cries of: 'There's only one Martin Taylor.'

The Arsenal manager pouted, particularly when Cesc Fabregas was left limping after a challenge from Craig Gardner. There was no suggestion that it was a poor tackle, for the Birmingham midfielder took the ball before sliding into Fabregas, but there was understandably some apprehension as Fabregas spent some considerable time nursing his leg.

The first half fizzled out uneventfully, but Birmingham were a whisker away from taking the lead after Barry Ferguson looped a free-kick to the back post, where Roger Johnson lobbed Manuel Almunia. The defender's shot hit the post, Scott Dann there for the rebound, somehow contriving to put it over the bar with his knee from two yards out.

Arsenal responded through Abou Diaby, but his shot into the bottom corner was disallowed when Howard Webb decided that Fabregas had fouled Ferguson. Wenger flapped his arms in trademark irritation, but sustained pressure from his side was rewarded when Nasri drove low into the same corner. All that was required was to run down the clock, but Phillips, known in these parts as 'Super Kev', received the ball from Gardner and looped it over Almunia in a frantic final minute.

Source: Telegraph