Former Arsenal man Ray Parlour has pinpointed the Gunners lack of experience in midfield as the key reason why they fell short against a resilient Birmingham City side in the Carling Cup final on Sunday.
Alex McLeish’s side clinched their first major trophy since 1963 after beating hot favourites Arsenal 2-1 at Wembley over the weekend, which has subsequently left the media pointing their finger at the Gunners defensive frailties for their collapse. However, Parlour believes the game was lost in midfield for Wenger’s men, and that Birmingham City’s experience in this area was vital to their success. The ex-Gunner told talkSPORT’s show ‘Kick Off’ last night:
‘Birmingham always had experience. [Lee] Bowyer is 34-years-old, he’s been there and done it. [Barry] Ferguson has played in many Old Firm derbies, you know he’s strong. [Keith] Fahey and Seb Larsson were up and down like yo-yos. They had the work-rate in the midfield.’
‘You look at the situation, we can all look at [Cesc] Fabregas, you can look at [Theo] Walcott. [We] missed them but Arsenal still had enough quality to win the game.’
Parlour finished off by crediting the Blues professionalism on the day:
‘For me credit to Birmingham, they went there with a job and it worked.’
In some ways I do agree with what Parlour has stated, but I still can’t look pass our dodgy defending. I truly felt as if our midfield never showed up on the day, and there is a saying in football that goes – A game is won or lost in midfield, unfortunately for Arsenal it was the latter.
To some extent, Parlour is correct about our immaturity in the centre of the park, but to be honest, these guys have been playing together for the past 4-5 years in the top flight of English and European football, so this can no longer be an excuse. Lack of leadership is certainly a problem, and evidently, when it comes to finals or big-games, we just don’t have any.
Whilst Parlour may believe we lost the Carling Cup due to our lack of experience in midfield (which some fans may agree with), I feel we lost the trophy because our lads purely underestimated the opposition, and ultimately, because of a huge defensive blunder in the final minutes.
Do you Gooners out there agree with Parlour’s Carling Cup final assessment?
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