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Tuesday
Dec062011

Wembley Woe

BY JAKE MANCER / @juniorgooner

It was a riveting League Cup run. We’d slaughtered the Spuds on their own turf, trampled Newcastle at St James Park, drifted past Wigan at the Emirates and fought hard over two-legs against Ipswich until “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” again sounded out over North London.

Finally, the chance we'd been waiting for. Thirteen years after sealing the Double against Newcastle we were back in a Wembley final – and against an opponent, Birmingham City, who on paper should have been cannon fodder. We’d just beaten Barcelona at the Emirates, confidence couldn’t be higher.

But it was all too much…

Our inexperience shined through, we were pinned in from the off. The normally useless Nikola Zigic proved a handful for our mix ‘n’ match defence. 1-0 down, but we dug deep. Wilshere’s shot dipped viciously against the bar, seconds later a cross was volleyed home by Van Persie. The Arsenal end roared…but wait, what’s happened to our captain. He’s limping. From that moment onwards it got worse.

There was no flowing football, we were unable to outwit Birmingham’s defence. As the game went on our players tired. Arshavin disappointed, Nasri was outplayed. Extra-time edged closer, Bendtner was thrown on, we lacked strength in depth. Then it happened. That heart-stopping, slow-motion moment which we’d love to forget. A woeful mix-up between Koscielny and Szczesny, the sight of Martins sprinting away in celebration, the hearts of thousands of Arsenal fans sinking and neutrals up and down the country laughing.

Wilshere was devastated, Wenger dumbfounded. Fabregas watched on from the stands – oh what could have been.

It was only the beginning, from there it all went wrong. Out of the FA Cup at Old Trafford, pushed out of the Champions League by Barcelona again at the Nou Camp, the league collapses at Newcastle and Wigan and pain of Liverpool and Villa at the Emirates.

But we are Arsenal fans, we keep the faith. We will stay strong, we will move Forward.

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