Arsenal v Birmingham – Wembley
Sunday 4pm BBC1 & Sky Sports 1
If Arsenal lead at anytime in normal time and fail to win this match, Paddy Power will refund all losing 1st/Last Goalscorer, Correct Score and Scorecast singles on the match.
See site for conditions.
“6 years since I landed a trophy eh? Well clearly you haven’t seen Sonia Tatar”
It’s been 6 years since Arsenal won a major trophy and 7 since they won one that people actually give a toss about. How much Arsene Wenger wants to dispatch that ever growing monkey on his back to the jungle of outdated statistics will be the determining factor in the Gunners’ desire to claim the Carling Cup. With Man Utd looking like entirely beatable league leaders and Barcelona finishing with all the composure of Dawn French at an all you can eat buffet, Arsenal are now in the running for a quadruple that at one point this season looked about as likely as Colonel Gaddaffi winning Best Cosmetic Surgery Procedure Of The Year 2010.
Whatever way you slice it, the Carling Cup is the most expendable of the lot – the Jason Orange of the foursome if you will. Of course any pot is better than nothing, but with injuries piling up and some hugely important games on the horizon, the rousing team speech from Wenger may be less ‘go out there and give it 110%’ and more ‘go out there and give 50-50 tackles a wide berth’, especially considering how Arsenal limbs have fared in collisions with Birmingham players in the past.
An overly timid Arsenal would seem to be Birmingham’s best chance of upsetting the odds because you have to delve further back in the history books than Arsenal’s last trophy win for the Blues last victory over the Gunners. Granted only a week or so further back, but that still translates into a less than encouraging record of three draw and five defeats since. Alex McLeish is taking it very seriously, but only in that way where under pressure managers use a cup run to mask the fact an expensively assembled squad are in a relegation dogfight. Big Eck has promised to win the cup as a birthday present for owner Carson Yeung. We’re no experts, but to a multi-multi-multi millionaire who has pumped millions into the club, that must be the equivalent of getting a pair of socks.
If you’ve had your fill of middling cup competitions for the last couple of weeks, then never fear because there’s also Premier League action this weekend. Man Utd will be impressing no-one in the latest laboured victory of the season. They make the short trip Wigan where a spectacular triple pike into a forward tuck volley by Wayne Rooney will hide the fact he’s still playing with the deft touch of a bucking bronco. On Sunday, the ‘too good to down’ adage will get an extensive run-out as West Ham slip to an honourable defeat at home to Liverpool. After the Hammers take an early lead, Kenny Dalglish wows the crowd by turning isotonic sports drink into wine and – somewhat more impressively – transforming David N’Gog into a Premier League standard striker, as the much maligned Frenchman takes a break from rolling the ball gently at the goalkeeper to score two late goals. If this cocktail of cup and Premier League excitement is too much to take, then don’t worry, it’s Stoke v West Brom on Monday night.