skip to content
Barry Ferguson is booked.
Cameron Jerome is cautioned by the ref for dissent.
Cameron Jerome replaces Nikola Zigic. Samir Nasri concedes a free kick for a foul on Liam Ridgewell. Free kick taken by Ben Foster.
Obafemi Martins takes a shot. Ben Foster gets a block in.
Obafemi Martins fires in a goal from inside the six-yard box low into the middle of the goal. Arsenal 1-2 Birmingham.
Unfair challenge on Obafemi Martins by Gael Clichy results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Ben Foster.
Tomas Rosicky challenges Barry Ferguson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Barry Ferguson takes the free kick.
The ball is swung over by Stephen Carr, Header from just outside the area by Jean Beausejour misses to the right of the target.
Obafemi Martins replaces Keith Fahey.
Inswinging corner taken by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance by Marouane Chamakh.
Unfair challenge on Nicklas Bendtner by Stephen Carr results in a free kick. Jack Wilshere restarts play with the free kick, Samir Nasri produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide left of the goal.
Tomas Rosicky takes a shot. Blocked by Martin Jiranek.
Shot by Samir Nasri. Save by Ben Foster.
Marouane Chamakh joins the action as a substitute, replacing Andrey Arshavin. Tomas Rosicky fouled by Lee Bowyer, the ref awards a free kick. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Jack Wilshere.
Nicklas Bendtner takes a shot. Ben Foster makes a save.
Samir Nasri takes a shot. Save by Ben Foster.
Foul by Liam Ridgewell on Nicklas Bendtner, free kick awarded. Samir Nasri delivers the ball, Alex Song has a headed effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the target.
Nicklas Bendtner comes on in place of Robin van Persie. Centre by Sebastian Larsson.
A cross is delivered by Tomas Rosicky, blocked by Barry Ferguson.
The referee blows for offside against Robin van Persie. Ben Foster restarts play with the free kick.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Sebastian Larsson by Tomas Rosicky. Ben Foster takes the free kick.
The ball is delivered by Jean Beausejour, save by Wojciech Szczesny.
Andrey Arshavin sends in a cross.
Corner taken by Robin van Persie played to the near post, Lee Bowyer manages to make a clearance. Shot by Jack Wilshere. Blocked by Lee Bowyer. Corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie, Nikola Zigic makes a clearance.
The assistant referee signals for offside against Nikola Zigic. Wojciech Szczesny takes the free kick.
Keith Fahey takes a shot. Blocked by Laurent Koscielny. Keith Fahey takes a shot from just outaide the penalty box and strikes the post.
Long range shot from Lee Bowyer misses to the left of the goal.
Samir Nasri concedes a free kick for a foul on Lee Bowyer. Free kick taken by Ben Foster.
The referee blows for offside against Nikola Zigic. Laurent Koscielny takes the indirect free kick.
Booking for Gael Clichy for unsporting behaviour. Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Keith Fahey by Gael Clichy. Sebastian Larsson crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from right wing, clearance made by Laurent Koscielny. Corner from the left by-line taken by Sebastian Larsson, Laurent Koscielny manages to make a clearance.
Foul by Samir Nasri on Stephen Carr, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Barry Ferguson.
Samir Nasri takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Lee Bowyer manages to make a clearance.
Jean Beausejour replaces Craig Gardner.
Drilled right-footed shot by Samir Nasri. Save by Ben Foster.
Centre by Bacary Sagna, clearance by Nikola Zigic.
Short corner taken by Robin van Persie.
Tomas Rosicky has an effort from just inside the box that misses to the left of the target.
Centre by Sebastian Larsson, Nikola Zigic takes a shot. Save by Wojciech Szczesny.
Bacary Sagna crosses the ball, Jack Wilshere takes a shot. Save by Ben Foster.
Craig Gardner concedes a free kick for a foul on Johan Djourou. Johan Djourou takes the direct free kick.
The referee books Sebastian Larsson for dissent. Free kick awarded for a foul by Martin Jiranek on Tomas Rosicky. Andrey Arshavin crosses the ball in from the free kick, save by Ben Foster.
Craig Gardner concedes a free kick for a foul on Tomas Rosicky. Tomas Rosicky takes the free kick.
Robin van Persie finds the net with a fantastic goal from close range to the bottom left corner of the goal. Arsenal 1-1 Birmingham.Assist on the goal came from Andrey Arshavin.
Jack Wilshere takes a shot.
The referee shows Laurent Koscielny a yellow card. Laurent Koscielny concedes a free kick for a foul on Lee Bowyer. Free kick crossed right-footed by Barry Ferguson from left channel.
The ball is crossed by Sebastian Larsson, clearance made by Johan Djourou.
Foul by Sebastian Larsson on Gael Clichy, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Gael Clichy.
Unfair challenge on Stephen Carr by Samir Nasri results in a free kick. Ben Foster restarts play with the free kick.
Lee Bowyer produces a cross.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Craig Gardner by Alex Song. Martin Jiranek takes the direct free kick.
Robin van Persie takes a shot. Roger Johnson gets a block in.
Andrey Arshavin delivers the ball, Ben Foster makes a save.
Robin van Persie produces a header from deep inside the six-yard box that clears the crossbar.
Nikola Zigic gets on the score sheet with a goal from close in high into the middle of the goal. Arsenal 0-1 Birmingham.Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Sebastian Larsson, assist on the goal came from Roger Johnson.
Foul by Lee Bowyer on Jack Wilshere, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Johan Djourou.
The offside flag is raised against Lee Bowyer. Free kick taken by Bacary Sagna.
Centre by Gael Clichy, Roger Johnson makes a clearance.
Andrey Arshavin has a shot on goal from outside the area which misses right.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jack Wilshere by Craig Gardner. Direct free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.
Liam Ridgewell takes a shot. Save made by Wojciech Szczesny.
Keith Fahey takes a shot. Wojciech Szczesny makes a save.
Shot by Samir Nasri from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Andrey Arshavin on Craig Gardner. Ben Foster takes the free kick.
Inswinging corner taken by Samir Nasri from the left by-line, Johan Djourou takes a shot. Blocked by Nikola Zigic. Corner taken by Robin van Persie from the right by-line, Johan Djourou produces a header from close range which goes wide of the left-hand post.
Andrey Arshavin takes a shot. Save made by Ben Foster.
Effort from outside the penalty area by Craig Gardner goes wide left of the target.
The assistant referee flags for offside against Robin van Persie. Roger Johnson restarts play with the free kick.
The assistant referee signals for offside against Lee Bowyer. Wojciech Szczesny takes the indirect free kick.
Wenger more concerned with long-term consistency
Arsene Wenger accepts lifting the Carling Cup on Sunday would finally end doubts over the latest Arsenal generation being able to deliver silverware - but feels sustained success at the top of the Barclays Premier League is already a bigger achievement.
Much has been made of the Gunners' trophy drought, which stretches back to the 2005 FA Cup and coincided with their move from Highbury.
Arsenal have not stood still in that time, either on or off the pitch, reaching the final of both the Champions League and Carling Cup since, while also pressing hard for the domestic title only to fall short at the final hurdle.
Wenger, though, still believes the club's achievements in delivering consistent top-level European football at their new 60,000-seater home in Ashburton Grove cannot be undervalued.
"It is always very difficult to say whether it is harder to finish always in the top four, or to win the Carling Cup," said the Arsenal manager ahead of the Wembley showdown with Birmingham.
"The most difficult is consistency at the top, and the proof of that is that only two clubs have been able to finish in the top four for each of the last 12 years, us and Manchester United.
"It is true that winning the Carling Cup will mean we don't have to answer that question any more about whether we can win trophies.
"It will be important for the confidence of the team for the rest of the season."
Wenger added: "We have a young squad and this will do much for their confidence.
"Winning the Carling Cup will be like beating Chelsea, like beating Barcelona - another step forward."
Arsenal will be without both captain Cesc Fabregas, who has a hamstring problem, and England forward Theo Walcott, sidelined by an ankle sprain, after what proved to be a costly midweek Premier League win over Stoke.
Wenger admitted given the challenges ahead, he had to be cautious with Fabregas.
"Cesc is disappointed, but his disappointment is diminished by the fact that we have other main targets after this game, like the championship, the Champions League and the FA Cup," Wenger said.
"If he was playing, he could damage his participation in all the other targets after that."
Robin van Persie is expected back from a minor hamstring injury to skipper the side at Wembley in what many believe could prove the catalyst for Wenger's youngsters to go on to bigger and better things.
Standing in their way, though, are a Birmingham side who have not won a major trophy since 1963.
Manager Alex McLeish wants to satisfy his desire for success in football with Birmingham - starting with Sunday's final.
McLeish has won 19 trophies as a player and manager in Scotland but is eager to lift his first silverware south of the border against the Gunners.
He makes no secret of his ambitions to succeed in the game but hopes they can be realised at St Andrew's.
He said: "I'm as ambitious as the next man and you keep doing your best.
"If it means a player is doing really well, and someone is interested in him, then I'm happy for that to happen.
"It's the same for me as a manager, the same for my staff. If one of my staff excels, the sports science guy or someone, then another big club might take him.
"I don't stand in the way of people's progress. I'd like to progress but I'd like to do that with Birmingham.
"I'd like us to find a niche in this league for the next few years but also win our first trophy for a long time.
"Arsenal haven't won a trophy for six years but we haven't had won one for 48 years."
McLeish has spoken with his mentor Sir Alex Ferguson - his manager at Aberdeen - during the build-up to the final.
He said: "Managers learn as they go along as well. You learn with every game. Sir Alex Ferguson was a young manager at Aberdeen and he knew he was in charge of his own destiny.
"I think he would learn through older players, in other words I'm saying he learnt it all from us. We taught him all he knows!
"In all seriousness, he's a mentor. I don't ring him up every week for tactics asking 'what should I do here?'
"But we're on the phone sometimes because managers get some free time mid-afternoon and you phone up your pals. We've spoken this week."
Former Arsenal player, Alexander Hleb, remains Birmingham's biggest injury doubt with the knee problem suffered against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup last weekend.
With on-loan Tottenham winger David Bentley cup-tied, Lee Bowyer could earn a recall to the starting line-up.
Martins the hero for Blues
Arsenal's six-year quest for a trophy goes on after Birmingham snatched a dramatic last-minute winner from substitute Obafemi Martins in a 2-1 victory in the Carling Cup final at Wembley.
Former Newcastle striker Martins swept home after a terrible mix-up between goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and centre-half Laurent Koscielny.
It was, though, no more than the Blues deserved following a battling display as Arsenal, without injured captain Cesc Fabregas and England winger Theo Walcott, once more failed to deliver when it mattered most.
Nikola Zigic had headed Birmingham in front after 28 minutes, but Robin van Persie equalised with a fine volley.
The Arsenal fightback, though, failed to materialise as Arsene Wenger's men could not make the most of their possession and were dealt a killer blow when Szczesny spilled Zigic's knockdown after Koscielny's mis-kick and Martins slotted home in front of the Blues fans to send the Midlands club into Europe.
Arsenal were crestfallen at the final whistle, but Arsene Wenger must now lift his side for an FA Cup fifth-round replay against Leyton Orient before the return leg of their Champions League last-16 clash against Barcelona to ensure another season which promises so much does not fail to deliver.
There was something of a sense of justice being done after a poor offside call inside the opening two minutes should have seen Arsenal reduced to 10 men and Birmingham awarded a penalty.
Lee Bowyer ran from behind the last defender onto Craig Gardner's pass before rounding Szczesny, who brought him down. However, instead the assistant's flag went up and the Gunners went unpunished.
Arsenal slowly started to find their passing game as Andrey Arshavin's shot was blocked by Ben Foster.
Samir Nasri then weaved through three markers into the right side of the Birmingham box, but fired into the side netting.
The Blues looked to unsettle Arsenal in possession, and Martin Jiranek made a fine tackle as Arshavin broke down the left.
The Gunners, not for the first time, found themselves trying to break down two banks of four as Birmingham settled into a disciplined rearguard action.
Some careless possession, though, saw Birmingham break and Koscielny had to be alert to head the ball behind after it was swung into the Arsenal penalty by Keith Fahey.
It proved costly as from the resulting corner, Zigic nodded the Blues in front after Roger Johnson headed the ball back into the six-yard box.
Arsenal almost responded immediately when van Persie sent a flying header over the bar from Bacary Sagna's cross.
Giant Serbia striker Zigic almost doubled the Blues' lead when Gardner touched the ball through from the edge of the box, but this time Szczesny was out quickly to make a smart block.
Arsenal were rattled, with Johan Djourou heading over his own crossbar, but after weathering the storm they were level after 39 minutes.
Wilshere broke quickly down the centre and when the ball came back to him at the edge of penalty area, the England midfielder crashed a 20-yard effort against the crossbar.
Arshavin picked up the rebound, turning it back into the six-yard box where van Persie volleyed the ball into the left-hand corner.
The Dutchman then needed treatment after kicking Roger Johnson's leg in the process of scoring, and jarring his knee.
Fortunately for Arsenal, with the return leg against Barcelona less than two weeks away, Van Persie, skipper in Fabregas' absence, was soon back in the action.
The Gunners continued on the offensive going into the break, and Nasri's 25-yard effort was well saved by Foster.
Tomas Rosicky almost put Arsenal ahead at the start of the second half when he arrived late at the edge of the area onto a Bacary Sagna cross, but his volley flew just wide.
Despite all of their possession, Arsenal were almost undone again when Fahey crashed a 20-yard effort against the inside of the post.
As the hour mark passed, Birmingham continued to disrupt Arsenal's flow in midfield.
Arsenal withdrew van Persie, perhaps as a precaution, in the 70th minute, replacing him with Nicklas Bendtner, who enjoyed a productive loan spell at Birmingham in the 2006/07 campaign.
Nasri's shot was blocked by Foster following a quick Arsenal counter-attack, with the Birmingham keeper then denying Bendtner.
Foster was in action again to claw away Nasri's 25-yard effort.
However, disaster struck for Arsenal with just a minute left when Zigic's knockdown was spilled by Szczesny as Koscielny missed his clearance.
Substitute Martins swept the loose ball into an empty net to secure a famous victory for Birmingham and prolong Wenger's quest for a trophy.
© 2004 - 2015 football.co.uk