Of the four titles Arsenal has pursued this season in hope of its first hardware since 2005, the Carling Cup is the least prestigious, yet on Sunday its players, coaches and fans left Wembley utterly dejected by the manner in which the Gunners faltered in the 2011 final. A terrible mix-up in the 89th minute between defender Laurent Koscielny and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny coughed up a loose ball that substitute Obafemi Martins rolled into the vacated net to present Birmingham with a 2-1 victory and its first trophy since 1963.
Nikola Zigic's close-range header gave Birmingham a first-half lead, and after Robin van Persie equalized it was another flick from Zigic that triggered the scramble by which Martins decided a classic cup matchup of glamour club and resilient challenger.
Arsenal resumes its FA Cup quest on Wednesday, sits second in the Premier League, and holds a 2-1 lead heading to the Camp Nou in its Champions League round-of-16 encounter with Barcelona. It failed in a final for the third time since winning the 2005 FA Cup and on occasions Sunday succumbed to players of lesser skill yet greater will, with keeper Ben Foster, defender Stephen Carr, and midfielder Lee Bowyer especially inspirational.