Arsenal’s Carling Cup Failure

February 28, 2011 — by Tyler

Arsenal caught a serious case of the Blues on Sunday, for sure.

I wasn’t terribly surprised by the 2-1 defeat to the old boys from the second city in the Carling Cup final. Birmingham can hold down the fort when they need to. The defense is often well-organized, stubborn, and capable of scoring on set pieces; the midfield is scrappy and confident; the forward line, while less than imaginative, can obviously take advantage of the odd bounce of the ball.

I’m not the first, nor the last, to praise Blues’ keeper Ben Foster. He was everywhere and anywhere on Sunday, playing as if it were his last match on earth. Quite a superb solo effort by England’s future number two!

As for the Gunners: With Cesc and Walcott nursing minor injuries, I had hoped against hope that Rosicky would remain on the bench, that Nasri would move to the attacking, central midfield role, and (gasp?) that Bendter would start on the right wing. Alas, it was as I predicted: Rosicky in the middle, Nasri on the right…

Despite Rosicky’s lack of ambition, and Van Persie’s yet-to-be disclosed injury–which forced him to exit the match prematurely–the loss nestled itself quite comfortably on the shoulders  of Arsenal’s goalkeeper and left-center back. (I can’t even mention them by name. Not that I’m ashamed, I just don’t have the energy to look up Eastern-European vowel and consonant combinations…)

I can’t help but wonder if Arsene Wenger might share a bit of the blame for Sunday’s loss. For three years, Gooners have clamored for solid, experienced, goalkeepers and center halves/backs. The signing of Vermaelen was a wonderstroke, but a niggling, mysterious, Achilles injury has rendered him unavailable until hell freezes over. William Gallas was a delicate genius, but now he cries for the Spurs. Sol Campbell had a brief spell of nostalgic leadership for the Gunners late last year, but now he warms the cheap seats at St. James’ Park.


The Carling Cup – Does Anybody Care?

January 27, 2011 — by Sean

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.


Carling Cup Draw – Quarterfinals Today & Tomorrow

November 30, 2010 — by Suman1

The Carling (i.e., League) Cup is certainly a lesser competition in England than the FA Cup, but it’s hardware nonetheless.  The quarterfinals just kicked off in a matter of minutes, with two matches today (West Ham-Man U & Arsenal-Wigan), and two more tomorrow (Birmingham City-Aston Villa & Ipswich Town-West Bromwich Albion).  All games start at 7:45pm in England (which corresponds to 2:45pm ET).

One match each day is available for viewing here in the US.  Today, West Ham-Man U is on FSP, as well streaming on  Tomorrow, the same goes Birmingham City-Aston Villa.

Carling Cup Quarterfinals

Tuesday 30th November

Arsenal vs Wigan Athletic FC
Kick-off at 19:45 at Emirates Stadium
West Ham United vs Manchester United
Kick-off at 19:45 at Upton Park

Wednesday 1st December

Birmingham City vs Aston Villa
Kick-off at 19:45 at St. Andrews
Ipswich Town vs West Bromwich Albion
Kick-off at 19:45 at Portman Road