The situations were similar. Arsenal was on the brink of glory. They had high expectations from their fans, as well as fans of other clubs. Wenger declaring this is the moment when his young bunch of wannabes achieve their much aspired glory.
But then history repeats itself as Wenger's overrated bunch of sunflowers chokes again.
That was the summary of how the Carling Cup ended for Arsenal today. The Carling Cup, also dubbed as the Mickey Mouse Cup, is seen by top teams as a trophy not worth winning. But given Arsenal's lack of medals over the past six years, it seems that this could be the moment when Arsenal could come out from under their "chokers" tag and end their dry run.
But as the result proved yet again, Arsenal are still the chokers that they have been since the days of the Invincibles.
Arsenal arrived at Wembley with their emphatic win against last season's nemesis, Barcelona, fresh on their minds. With bottom-ranked club Birmingham, who are still trying to fight off relegation, as opponents, the Carling Cup final was being projected as Arsenal's moment of glory when they would lift their first medal in six years.
Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger had earlier stated that his super-talented squad (irony intended) could go now to win a quadruple of trophies this season. But the football they displayed today gave out a different message. If the North Londoners continue their choking form, this might be the season that sees Arsenal fall to shameful depths.
With their FA Cup replay against Leyton Orient and their face-off against Barca all within a span of nine days, the loss will seriously have its impact on the team. A baby-faced Wilshere crying inconsolably and the dumb-witted looks from Arsenal's top defender, Koscielny, reflected effects of a golden opportunity missed.
The loss to a club facing relegation and missing out on winning first their medal in six years could go a long way in defining Arsenal's rest of the season.
Arsène Wenger was the picture of a man who was left with no excuses but to admit that his team was really chokers and that they will never be able to remove that tag. Wenger was unable to blame refereeing decisions as the reason for the loss (which is his usual favored excuse). A poor refereeing decision saw Birmingham being denied a penalty and Arsenal's goalie still playing through the 90 minutes.
But in the end, all justice was made as Alex McLeish and his men ended their fairy tale campaign to lift a trophy this season.
The stadium was empty of Gooners even before Birmingham went to the podium, and no chants of "In Wenger we trust" were heard. Only Wilshere's sobs and Birmingham fans' cheers were making the noise at Wembley. The Arsenal fans' wait for a trophy only became longer and could become longer as their club failed to capitalize on their best and perhaps only opportunity to win a trophy.
These last lines go out for Wenger and his bunch of baby-faced, overrated youngsters, from football fans all over the world, while Gooners sing "In Wenger we trust."
"Once a Choker, always a Choker, if not a Joker."
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