The Carling Cup Final Preview: Feel it, enjoy it, celebrate it

“I’m a futurist. I’m not nostalgic. I don’t collect anything. I don’t know where my medals are. I’ve given some away, some must be in a cupboard somewhere. Frankly, I’m not a collector at all. This job turns you forward. When you go to bed at night, do you look back at the good moments you’ve had in your life, or do you look forward at what you want to do in the future? I’m more about what’s happening tomorrow.”

These are the words of Arsene Wenger on the eve of the Carling Cup final, our first chance at silverware since we lost narrowly in the Champions League Final in Paris in 2006. They are undoubtedly the words of a winner and reveal the forward-thinking mentality of a man who has redefined the culture of our beloved club.

But they are not words I can relate to today.

Today should not be about looking into the future. It is not about worrying about Barcelona, or whether we can overtake Manchester United and win the Premier League or even pondering how great this group of players may yet turn out to be. Today is about being in the present, feeling the atmosphere of the game and — win or lose — enjoying the moment with this team.

Eleven Arsenal players will head out onto the pitch today. Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott will not be amongst them, but it is not about those two. It is about the Robin van Persies, Samir Nasris, Jack Wilsheres and Johan Djourous of the team: players that we have watched come through the ranks and develop as both footballers and men.

I am excited to see which players excel at this level. Will the likes of Wilshere play as well as he did against Barcelona? Will Djourou and Koscielny remain as rock-solid as they have been on a day as big as this? Will Nasri, van Persie and Arshavin make the contributions that we all know they are capable of?

Everybody knows we have the goods to beat Birmingham today and lift the trophy today. Our sharp football has overcome their more physical style twice already this season and we should be enough today. I could talk about tactics and what we need to do to win the game but it’s really rather simple: if we work hard, move the ball around well and take our chances we should beat them.

But it is not really about tactics as such: it is more about executing our usual gameplan in a pressure-cooker atmosphere in front of 100,000 fans.

I could go on and on about this game but at the end of the day it is a final and anything can happen. I encourage everybody to enjoy the game, enjoy the feeling it brings and the emotions it entices.

Come on Arsenal!

Have your say on the Carling Cup Final by leaving a comment.



  1. Ahh Andy, you’re forgetting that our carling cup final loss to chelsea in 2008 was our most recent chance at silverware.

  2. If our boys can treat it like the Barcelona game we will have a great chance of winning,with or without Cesc and Theo.Some of the football pundits appear to have forgotten that we have some amazing players that can win games for us apart from these two.Some one said that Birmingham will want it more than us….I totally disagree with that…we will be up for it!

  3. Thanks Drew for the early post it’s much welcomed in these parts.
    I’ve been up since 02:30 (our west coast US time)just like a 9 year old at Christmas time hoping and praying for that most coveted bb-gun.
    I saw the Q&A with Wenger, Tony Adams and Nigel last night and the boss seemed well grounded and very practical minded about the whole affair. I’m not. I think more than medals or even trophies memories are what we all collect. As individuals and as a group we gooners have collected some pretty rough memories over the past 5 years. Crazy Jenzy’s red card in Paris, Eduardo’s and the Aaron Ramsey’s broken legs. Sagna’s goal against Chelsea in the league a few years back which brought us all to a heady delirium only to have it snatched away at the end.
    I’m looking to have some of those memories dispelled or at least displaced this morning.
    Perhaps collectively we’ve become a bit pessimistic. There are some palpable reasons for that. Today though would be a fine day to get that monkey off of our backs. For my part I’m going to hole up,hunker down, and root for my squad with all of my heart and soul and if that doesn’t run the bugger off at least I tried. But I honestly believe it will. Today. So go You Gunners!!!!

  4. I hope their 4-5-1 doesn’t stifle us too much in the midfield. Nasri will have to drop and inject himself into the forward line when necessary. I’m here with my 12 year old son ready for some silverware. If Nasri shines we will be shinng the silverware at the end of the day. Come on boys,let’s show them all!

  5. Well gang,
    I know the going is real tense right now but I just got an e-mail from a buddy of mine in Bangor,Maine and he claims Ashley Cole shot a kid. Is this true?
    Still 1 all late 2nd half.

  6. I’m baffled with Wenger’s decisions tonight. Rosicky starting was not a smart move and he played poorly all night. Then poor substitutions. Understand the RVP may have been injured, but Rosicky should have been taken off and Nasri moved more centrally. At least Arshavin was a lot more threatening on the left.

    Credit to Birmingham who really wanted it more. I’m gutted.

  7. Heartening that we lost to birmingham due to a mix up of Sczezsny and Koscienly and gifted the goal to Martins. Truly i have no words .Anyhow better luck next time for our lads.Hope this loss doesn’t dents their confidence .When we miss our captain we really should put the onus on someone to do the fulcrum job to stay deep and control play and should also stop song doing offensive role.Truly we were denied victory by birmingham at many chances and we gifted them a goal ,nearly the moment they started to tire.

    Great goal from van persie.He does this match after match.

    Sorry i cannot continue typing …

  8. @Jordan – I’ve been thinking the same thing for a long time… and unfortunately, I’m ready to bet we’re gonna have more nights like this; just not sure how much we can get; FA Cup – Man Utd, IF we get there, Champions League – Barca, and we couldn’t beat Birmingham AFTER we already beat them 2 times this season. And Rosicky really, really sucked, hands down, the worst player tonight, not that it would matter. Damn, I’d better stop thinking about this, it only angers me more.

  9. You’re right the others looked devastated but every time they have the chance to prove themselves they fuck it up. EVERY FUCKING TIME. And yet wenger persists with the same fuckin shyte players. Bring on Bendtner when we need a winner… yeah fucking great!

  10. Absolutely gutted! Don’t blame our GK. Even if Kos didn’t hear Scesz, his attempt at clearing was awful. So, he screwed up TWICE in one play! Rosicky was absolutely dreadful. Dreadful in his effort, passing, and attempts on goal.

    We do have to keep supporting this squad, however!! What’s great about the fixtures is that the squad has a chance to right the ship almost immediately. Let’s get behind the squad!

  11. I keep coming back to these message boards in utter shock. I know what just happened but I can’t believe it. You could almost feel it coming, couldn’t you?

    That’s not a pessimistic Arsenal fan talking, it was the failed one-twos that Rosicky bunged up repeatedly, it was the many shots that, while challenging, were right at Foster. It was seeing Bendtner and Chamahk come onto the field…and Rosicky stay exactly where he was.

    I really hope I meet Arsene Wenger in a casino of all places, because he is by far the worst gambler I have ever seen.

    Of course it wasn’t just him tonight. It was all the players. As we have seen so much recently, Arsenal controls the game. Meaning: Arsenal passes it around repeatedly, and then gets close to the box, loses the ball, get it back, and then repeat. Their inability to pull the trigger is shocking.

    I will always hope for trophies and a strong finish in every capacity for this team, but the more cynical part of me right now, fueled by a deep anger is saying, “Let them fail. Let them flounder again in the most significant portion of the season and see who leaves the club in the summer.” While this is ridiculous and just plain mean because the team truly deserves honours for their play, its no secret that this team needs a makeover. They are being weighed down by injuries and players who have lost their touch. I don’t think there is a squad that has so many internationals sitting on the bench but lack serious depth. We see it everytime the B-squad gets rolled out, and what makes this even more gutting is that this team that played today was nearly our ‘Championship’ starters.

    I know I’m rambling, but I just needed to get all of this off my chest so I can stop from looking at other message boards and be depressed. I think the anger is good. Anger can be a great motivator. This young Arsenal squad are going to have to wipe away the tears and get really really pissed off.

    What we need is Arsenal with a Vengeance. We have the potential to play no-mercy attacking football, and that is precisely what I believe should follow this result. The more brutal we are able to rebound from this enormously shocking display the more momentum we will be able to carry into the final games.

  12. FUCK this cup its better this way
    we need real trophys not this mouse cup
    if we beat barca in 2 leg we need to give all we have in title and CL
    fuck fa cup and carling cup we need big things not this shit

  13. Well gang,
    I admit I’m gutted like a haddock and had to lie face down on my bunk for the past half hour. But I didn’t sniffle until after the whistle blew and I won’t be crying when it blows for the start of Weds cup tie.
    That’s life and I’d rather lose as a gooner than EVER be a suck-butt brummie.
    So come on brethren It’s time to close-up ranks and move on.
    My side is The Arsenal now and for fuckin’ ever.


  15. This team is too good to be playing scared!!!! If this team wants to win any silverware they have to MAN UP and play the game, Stop pointing fingers and from this day forth just blow teams away. The evil ruthless streak of ARSENAL needs to begin now show the world what you are made of.

  16. Another barren seasons looms ahead. How can arsenal with the worst defensive record amongst the top six epl teams can beat barca and manure away in next matches when it cannot overcome birmingham fighting relegation battle is beyond comprehension. arse has definitely lost his marbles and his confidence in such mediocre players koslinecy, song, clichy and worst of them all shit rosicky in the final xi and hope to win trophies is nothing but deluding himself from reality.

  17. Its like dis issue of not winnig cup as turn to curse on Arsenal. Wenger have to look at this great team and do some thing, bcos we can continue losing cup every year, or till when wil we win cup?

  18. Wenger post match interview on SS1;

    We can’t take more inujuries…

    Well fucking DUH!! That is why you build a squad of quality players!! So when the inevitable injuries/fatigue/loss of form kick in late in the season you can rotate quailty for quality, not shite.

    Fuck me sideways sometimes I wish he’d just say nothing.V

  19. One trophy gone and yes it was supposed to be a handy one but life isn’t that simple.
    Get over it.
    Birmingham fans could tell you that this was the 2nd trophy in their entire history and they never stop supporting their club.
    A sector of our support could take a leaf from their book methinks.

    No complaints, if anything the ref and co. favoured us and was willing to play advantage at every foul.
    On the day, we didn’t have the wit and wisdom to deal with their ariel and physical game. They closed us down and made us rush things. They had a game plan and it worked.
    Good luck to them

    We have an element of apprehension in almost all our games where as fans, we are nearly expecting the part in the game where something goes terribly wrong and I personally am sick of that feeling .
    However, that will only change when we as support cease to assume success and enjoy it only as it comes. This was a one off game and that is all.
    4 points is the gap in the league and Utd have a difficult schedule so we shall see what we shall see there. We take a lead if not a full squad to Barcelona. Getting on the team’s back because of this one result will not further the cause, either ours or theirs.
    The media will delight and have the knives out for our players and our manager as they detest our club’s methods and Arsene Wenger who employs them.
    I have seen us lose many finals and this on the scale of things was nothing to set ourselves on fire over.

    Should this team be fortunate enough to have the opportunity to return to Wembly again this season, this result may yet have purpose and dividend.

    Victory through harmony.
    Don’t you forget it.

  20. I honestly felt that Arsene was fully blameless today but I must say he made a big mistake in first selecting a player who for me and if I’m being nice has been absolutely hopeless and helpless from game to game since his return from injury. The second mistake was starting and leaving this player in a position where pulling the strings, making things happen and essentailly dictating the match was incredibly vital. “Tomas Rosicky” is his name and he was most certainly despicable tonight and my pick for worst performer of the day. Like his performances all season he offered us nothing, he offered Robin nothing. His decision making was painful, his distribution was even worst, and his overall performance, as far I’m concerned was one that all but spells an end to his Arsenal career come the end of the season.

    However, I actually want to refrain from blaming Arsene like I have been for the last 5 years. On this occasion I really do feel that apart from Jack Wilshere, Robin Van Persie and perhaps Johan Djourou his players let him down. They did not turn up and almost performed like they were playing for 3 points as opposed to a cup that can dispel a six year trophy drought.

    I almost shed tears at the final whisle and broke pieces of furniture in my house. I don’t know anymore what to think of this team. I just don’t believe in them. They give me the illusion that they can win things but at the end of the day it all turns to false hope.

    I will forever be a gooner but I don’t know if I have the resources to continue believing only to be bitterly disappointed at the end.

  21. i’m a villa fan and all ive got to say is that u lot are a bunch of prima donnars who can’t play on a big stage…. arshavin and rosicky were a disgrace. u have to question why ur “so-called” world class manager” has not addressed ur defence and goalkeeping crisis for the past 5 years. We’ve got ourselves lumbered with a stubborn french manager and were goin nowhere and after todays display agianst our rivals i think u lot are nowhere near any silverwear….

  22. Typical stuff! Another blue bus parked in the last quarter of the pitch and Arsenal have no answer. How we missed Cesc and, yes, also Theo who would have found ways to break up this third rate team. Now that this is over, we can really concentrate on making sure that we lose the other cups as well – I am sure we can do that.

  23. Well Craig, I wouldn’t swap our prima donna sfor your confirmed losers. perhaps you might consider what you’ll do after relegation instead of criticizing our cup finalist.
    By the way what might you boys be in the running for besides trying desperately to finish ahead of Stoke City?

  24. I cried with joy when we won at Nou Camp and I almost feel like crying today.

    I do not think I have ever been more confident about a match or a final that we have ever played before; such a downer 🙁

    It was vital to win this one because it was a start. Man U has a tough schedule ahead and we would’ve had a fair chance on catching up in the Premier League. And the game with Barca is still ahead. I hope we dont take anything from this match to the Champions League.

    Just don’t want to say more…hurts.

  25. Today we taste the defeat, maybe tomorrow we could taste the glory.
    Today we’re most united than before because hard times make us stronger….
    What’s next?
    Stand up, dry your tears and wear your Arsenal shirts with proud!

  26. btw on a happier note feynoord won 5 to 1 today and although myaichi did not score maybe he got assists? Please show highligh if u have

  27. It was not meant to be.

    That’s life, its hard to take how we lost it but if you guys are really Arsenal fans you got to take the negatives as well as the positives.

    Chin up, don’t be crybabies and start the blame game.

    Our club was never perfect no club is, the players have to man up to their mistakes. We as supporters have to man up as well and keep supporting.

  28. I think we should have treated the Cup Final with more credit than “just another league match”. In all fairness, should have been down to 10 men and conceeded a penalty in the 1st min. Played better than our last defeat in a major final (v Chelsea 2007 League Cup Final), but this was the trophy we were most likely to win this season. Credit to Birmingham who fully deserved to win the

  29. On any objective level it was a game we should have won comfortably given our possession and goal attempts. Rosicky was poor but not for wont of trying. But the defending was unforgiveable today. And we were fortunate that the linesman got the offside wrong in the first five minutes.

    I wouldn’t mind so much if it wasn’t against a team that includes lee Bowyer who makes the lowest form of pond life seem the height of civilisation in comparison. The rest of the team seem decent enough.

    At least Man$ity failed to win this morning and on Weddnesday we can all be temporary Chelski fans. Clutching at straws now!

  30. The only thing I can say is that I’d rather this happened in the CC Final, rather than the FA or CL final.

    This type of event can only increase the motivation and focus of the squad, who surely must now be even more determined for silverware.

    Bring on Orient and Sunderland.

    Go The Arsenal.

  31. sounds really fair over here, I haven’t watched the first 20 mins or so, but I too had the impression that the defeat really wasn’t due to bad referreering, it was a really cup game with the better end for Birmingham, not undeserved …… in my opinion, so one should be a fair looser ………… 😥

  32. Agree 100% with CRoatiangunner(#20) Wanted to win, of course, but there was danger wnning this would have been considered a successful season. Even the FA cup is overly sentimentalized, IMO. Premiership and Champions League are important. For replay v. L.Orient, I would start Almunia, Gibbs, Miquel, Squillaci, Eboue, Diaby, Denilson, Rosicki,Bendtner, Chamakh and Arshavin( or Ramsey, if available)
    Against Sunderland, we should play the best we have, especially if Chelski take 3 from ManUre tomorrow.
    Best possible team against Barca, and take it from there. Only one more Premiership match rest of March(@Hawthorns on 19)
    The boys came back strong after Geordie debacle. Believe they will again. The 38 game Premiership season is the real test of character and class and I believe we have both.

  33. A few words and phrases:
    JORDAN – ‘Anger is good’ ‘really, really pissed off’ ‘Arsenal with a vengeance’ ‘No mercy attacking’ and ‘Brutal’.
    TYRONE – ‘Playing scared’.
    PAUL COURAGE – ‘Apprehension’.
    CISCO – ‘stronger’.
    All these qualities either do or don’t come from Wenger, he’s too soft, diplomatic and his players do not fear any form of wrath.
    SICK and TIRED – ‘Arsene fully blameless’. You’re having a laugh – Rosicky AM (how much has he played this season?) when Nasri available? Arshavin not super-subbed (he scored 2 goals in 2 substituted on games recently – v Everton after 8mins on the pitch, V Barcelona after 15mins). Arsene got his tactics, player roles and substitutions all wrong.
    CRAIG (Villa fan) – Our manager is at fault for prima donna(ism), always bitching to the officials.
    Perhaps if the players had more direction, leadership and fear of hair-dryer treatment this would not have happened, it’s not OK.
    Wenger 75% blame, team 25%.
    Grow some balls Arsene, you’re making us all look like a bunch of pussies.
    Jack for president!!

  34. If we can win one of the remaining competitions available to us, then it would be reasonable to argue that they have indeed responded to the disappointment of The Carling Cup Final. Conversely, there is the concern that they have again failed to convert promise into silverware and that they simply do not have the wherewithal to cross the finishing line as victors.

    My view is that there is little to be gained in attending games for the remainder of the season with a sense that it is anything but counter productive to deride the players. There are forums which are appropriate for the purpose of raising genuine concerns. Equally, those whose responses are of the “Whinge, whinge, moan…” or “Go and support Spurs…” variety would better convince me that there are not issues needing to be addressed in the summer, if they supported their argument beyond such oft heard repost.

    I am not the only one to have raised concerns about the strength in depth of the squad and inability to replace key figures when the need arises – succinctly evidenced by Cesc’s absence at Wembley. However, there are just over three months before any additional resources can be introduced. Until then, I would like to see Aaron Ramsey’s involvement increase on a judicious basis and also Jens Lehmann’s distinctive influence in ensuring that Szczesny marshals his defence to ensure no repeat of an infamous humiliation.

    Importantly, in the time remaining before the end of this campaign – when Arsene Wenger has acknowledged that he must accept judgment – we the supporters should continue to encourage those who represent our footballing aspirations. Not blindly, nor without constructive comment, but nevertheless wholeheartedly during the games forming the basis upon which conclusions may be drawn. Illustrious nights like the win over Barcelona are somehow more validated by the awfulness of defeat on other occasions – to fully appreciate one, you have to have suffered the reverse – although the hope is, not too often.

    Of this I am certain: whilst I hope that we do collect the silverware necessary to diminish the horror of this particular episode; if we do not, then it is very much time for a rethink in the summer – either in terms of technical input and techniques adopted or personnel – or both. The Club has no divine right to win trophies, but neither should it expect fans to continually subsidise an ever evolving and expensively underachieving experiment. The jury is out and if this really is the best squad which Arsene Wenger has worked with, then I very much hope that we can return in May to deliver a positive verdict.

    If it transpires that he needs to make significant changes, then I hope that Arsene Wenger is realistic enough and shows sufficient humility to do so. Somewhere between the positions of the so called AKBs and AMGs resides the reality of this situation. We need to reward our best players and backroom staff, including the likes of Steve Rowley, without extending the same benefits to those who may be less deserving. There are sufficient challenges looming to separate the chaff from the wheat and for those involved to work themselves into the future of this Club.

    Should that future incorporate new ownership in the coming months, I suspect that there will be far less sympathy or patience shown than may be currently afforded. At present, the Club can no longer deny that its fan base are neither unilateral in their unquestioning support; nor that there is not an increasing urgency for definable success – which for the avoidance of doubt means a major trophy.

    For now, that chance has been squandered. There is yet time to retrieve our season. Insofar as we can control events on the pitch, we need to make sure that we do our bit, from the appearance of the first player warming up until the exit of the last at full time. The players, for their part, need to understand their responsibility and offer every possible encouragement to get behind them.

  35. The manager has let down the players. How do you give a dummy like Rosicky 90 minutes. The moment i saw him in the starting line up i knew we would draw the game level and loose on penalties. I wasnt wrong when we lost. We have struggled and lost all games when this guy has started. You just cant imagine how i hate this fool. Taking off match winners and a mediocre team bringing on a second striker showed that they indeed wanted to win the game fair and square.We have lost the respect and fear teams used to have on us . There is no trophy this season again with such a poor tactician at the club. We cant beat united at Old trafford. Besides Leyton Orient may even save us the embarrassment in advance by thumping us again.

  36. I drove 800 miles for the game yesterday and I’m not as downbeat as some here.

    Obviously disappointed but no point in knee-jerk reactions, as always I plan to judge at the end of the season. There are still three winnable trophies.

  37. Seriously people get over it, and get behind the team FFS, really i hate the fans out here, i have never even my life ever heard so many disgusting comments by any other fans of other clubs, i have had friends of utd and chelsea and where i stay there is a v small bunch of arsenal supporters, no matter how many mistakes utd make, no matter if their wins are a fluke or because of the ref, no matter how horrible their season has been this time around, they still turn around and tell me we have lost only one game the whole season… they themselves arent so upbeat abt us loosing to brum, because they themselves know they lost to west ham, a team lower down the league than brums, they actually gave arsenal credit for beating barca, delano u piece of thrash if u think we cant defeat utd plz GTFO (Get the fuck out of here) we really are not in a mood to listen to an arsenal supporter talk this way…

  38. I’m frustrated with Wenger. I hv never been pleased with his selections. Each time Bendtner plays along side Chamach, we appear to be blunt upfront. Rosicky shouldn’t have played all the 90 minutes. Wenger tends to draw his forcuss to the forthcoming matches instead of winning the match in hand! Surely, this is another TROPHYLESS SEASON. I can bet on this. My desperation is almost beyond control.

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