The first football final of the English 2010/2011 season takes place on Sunday 27th February 2011, as Arsenal take on Birmingham at Wembley Stadium, London, in the Final of the Carling Cup.
Arsenal are missing key players, as their captain, Cesc Fabregas has a hamstring problem, and attacking midfielder, Theo Walcott, has an ankle injury. Diaby and Robin van Persie, who have also had injuries recently, are expected to start in today’s Final, however.
Former Arsenal player, Alexandr Hleb, will face a late fitness test to see if he has recovered sufficiently from a knee injury to take part in this match, while David Bentley, Curtis Davies and Colin Doyle cannot play after having featured for other teams in earlier rounds.
Arsenal are pushing for a league title in the Barclays Premier League at present, as they are currently second, four points adrift of Manchester United, while Birmingham are only just keeping their heads above water at the other end of the table, where they are embroiled in a battle for Premier League survival.
However, cup finals are different, and much depends upon how each team settles today. Fabregas and, to a lesser extent, Walcott will be huge misses for Arsenal, but they have more strength in their squad than Birmingham. Van Persie is also enjoying great goalscoring form at present, so if the Blues are to get anything from this match, they will need to stop the Dutch forward for certain.
When Birmingham met Arsenal on New Year’s Day this year, Arsenal ran out 3-0 winners, with goals coming from van Persie and Nasri: those two look the most likely sources of goals again today. Birmingham, in what could prove to be the biggest match of their season, will need to do much better today.
Arsenal, after a number of years without silverware, will be keen to pick up the trophy in their home city this evening however, and, with the abundance of talent they possess, are very clear favourites to do so.
The Carling cup 2010/2011 Final kicks-off at 16:00 GMT on Sunday 27th February 2011, in Wembley Stadium, London, England.