Two semifinals gone (one actually exciting, sorry Hammers fans for that tough extra time loss) and we’re on to Wembley at the end of February with Birmingham City and Arsenal for the league cup. This one’s been traditionally contested by mid-table teams since it’s seen as a mostly meaningless achievement, that is until they changed the format to reward the victor with a Europa League berth (previously winners would gain entry to the UEFA Cup tourney).
That sort of reward would certainly drive a team like Birmingham (who have in fact won the cup once, back in 1963), but what of the Arsenal, whose manager famously remarked back in 2009, “If you win the League Cup, can you honestly say you have won a trophy?” Looks like a couple more years without any hardware have changed the man’s mind, as the competition was once described by the Frenchman as “…a competition for our younger players. If I don’t play them here where would I play them?” You may have noticed, by the by, that the team he’s been sending out in the competition this season is pretty close to his starting XI for premiership action.
Still, it’s good to see Arsenal actually trying to win what has been deemed the “Worthless Cup” and the “Mickey Mouse Cup”. The idea being tossed around is that any cup win is just the spark the team needs to bring more trophies, and quick. We’ll know before the final if they’ll be proceeding toward the most sought after trophy around (Champions League, ‘natch), though it looks unlikely they’ll get by high-flying Barcelona.
Now, a quick historical assessment of Birmingham City vs Arsenal. The teams have met 116 times in all competitions, the first time being back in 1905. Aside for a spell in in the 1950s, Arsenal have dominated the meetings, and own a record of 54 wins and 34 draws to their 28 losses. Mostly known as a tough-tackling, defense-first side, the West Midlands club have been improving their football the past couple of seasons though they find themselves currently on the cusp of relegation. They may be most notable to Arsenal fans for Taylor’s horrific ankle breaking tackle on Eduardo. We haven’t shown the full extent of the injury here, but you’re welcome to do a quick youtube search to see the lad’s foot flap around backwards.