Arsenal vs Birmingham City, 1-2: Full time analysis and player ratings
Written by Chris on February 27, 2011 23:10
Let’s face it. No-one saw this coming. We approached this game at the top of our mental strength after the win over Barcelona yet somehow, we failed.
From the very first minute of the game, one could immediately see that almost all our players were nervous with the likes of Bacary Sagna, Johan Djourou and Gael Clichy all making amateurish mistakes such as the way how Gael did not react in time to play Lee Bowyer in an offside position who went on to win a penalty and a red against our goalkeeper, all in vain as the move was stopped by the linesman.
Actually, that made me smile because there are some who on a daily basis try to sell us the rubbish that there is some sort of conspiracy going on against Arsenal yet today was the clear demonstration how in football mistakes sometimes go in your favour and sometimes, they go against you.
I’m not sure how the game would have unfolded had we played 88 minutes in ten men and Manuel Almunia in goal but what I know is that with eleven against eleven, Birmingham made us look average, they fought from the very first to the very last minute of the game – just like Leyton Orient – giving us a lesson of never-die-attitude, a lesson of grit and determination and a lesson on how to keep a lead in stoppage time.
The last-minute goal we conceded was bizarre and heartbreaking at the same time. I don’t feel like blaming Wojciech or Laurent or both for losing the Cup because it wasn’t just this episode which lost us the game, it was an overall shocking performance in the defensive department which yet again demonstrates how much we struggle when different questions are asked during the game.
Brum had a plan, to use the height of Nikola Žigić. We, had no reply to that. In the second half things started to look better but in all fairness, the Serbian was tired, very tired and that made our job back there easier.
Questions will be asked. Today, tomorrow and on Tuesday. Nigel Winterburn, Tony Adams and others stressed the importance of the first trophy after almost six years and it will now be interesting to see how our players will bounce back from what could easily be described as one of the most disappointed results of the last six years.
In the meantime, the timer, which in my Friday preview was reading 5 years, 9 months and 7 days will just keep going. And going. And going, just like an Energizer battery.
As always, whether you agree with my ratings or not, submit your own at Arsenal Interactive and make sure to share them on Twitter and Facebook.
Match Video Highlights
Match video highlights are available in the Videos section of our website. If not there yet, rest assured they will be up in a matter of hours.
Szczesny: 5,5 – Over and over again we criticised Manuel and Lukasz for how they behave in set-pieces. I’m afraid Wojciech is as hesitant as these two as the first goal showed. Having said that, credit for the very important 33th minute block on Zigic when the score was still 0-1 and the way he reacted to block Martins after we conceded the second.
Djourou: 4 – Awful. I feel for Johan, he so much wanted the win as the Arsenal TV Online interview showed but he felt the pressure. No idea why he stepped forward in the first conceded goal allowing Zigic to head goalwards and more and more mistakes as the game progressed such as the one leading to Fahey’s post on minute 57.
Koscielny: 4 – Much better than Johan as he dealt well with the aerial threat coming from the Serbian but one has to wonder what was going through his mind in the 89th minute when he decided to clash into our goalkeeper. It’s a shame, really, as he was indeed doing well before what happened in the final minute of the game.
Clichy: 4,5 – It’s not the first time he played someone onside, is it? And just like on Wednesday, made some nice interceptions and tackles but at the same time struggled to keep up with the determination of Sebastian Larsson.
Sagna: 5 – Not the best way to celebrate his son’s birthday. I cannot believe how shocking Bacary was in the defensive department, the one who started the move which led to the corner from which Brum took the lead. Ironically enough, he delivered at least three top-class crosses for our strikers.
Wilshere: 6,5 – One of the few who can be satisfied with his performance. Guilty of some sloppy passes in midfield but never gave up.
Song: 4 – I said it on Wednesday and I will say it again. If Alex will not be given adequate rest we will lose one of our most important elements of the side.
Rosicky: 2 – Was supposed to be the one to replace Cesc in the heart of the midfield. He failed. I only knew he was still playing when he concluded just wide a brilliant move in the 47th minute.
Nasri: 6,5 – Great run in the 13th minute only to selfishly blast it high and wide. Good effort from long range in the last minute of the first half and more efforts in Foster’s direction. Unfortunately, the Brum #1 – man of the match by a mile – was always ready to answer.
Arshavin: 6 – Maybe the only not to feel any pressure in the first part of the game. Brilliant turn in the 7th minute with Ben Foster ready to deny him and top work to assist Robin for the equaliser. More good work from the Russian in the second half although he did fade away before getting substituted.
van Persie: 6,5 – What this man is doing with his weak foot deserves credit. Attempted a Euro 1988 van Basten type of goal in the first part of the game before scoring with a wonderful volley, yet again showing how important he is. Stayed on the pitch even if suffering from injury. Chapeau.
Bendtner: 6 – Did well, forced a good save from Ben Foster and added something to the forward line, which, could have easily been added earlier.
Chamakh: No Vote – Not much from the Moroccan.