Post Match View – Birmingham City F.C

Birmingham and Arsenal have a lot in common.
Birmingham and Arsenal have nothing in common.

Birmingham’s manager is not English. Ditto for Arsenal.
Birmingham is in the EPL. Ditto for Arsenal.
Birmingham’s local rival is hated passionately. Ditto for Arsenal.
Birmingham…uughh…Birmingham

Well, there aren’t as many things in common as I thought. Save the above, we have almost nothing in common with Birmingham City F.C. You’re not surprised are you?

For starters, we have never been relegated. They have been. They can still be regarded as a yo-yo club going up and down the divisions without a sustained period at the top level.

We have a core of 20-something year old young players. They had four players over 30 in their starting line-up yesterday. Two more were on the bench.

We haven’t been promised an injection of cash for the January transfer window by a super rich owner. Our operating policy is one of self-sustainability – no sugar daddies. We operate differently from Birmingham City on almost all levels.

One one level especially is the way we approach the game. We don’t try to hurt our opponents with “fierce defender’s tackles”, we punish them with goals. We try to beat them senseless with good football. I suspect that one of the many reasons the anti Arsenal types hate us is because we’ve embarrassed their clubs with our brand of football once or twice. We haven’t embarrassed Birmingham City F.C. nearly enough for my liking.

Yesterday’s match looked like it would be the one in which we dished out some serious punishment on Alex McLeish and his team. However, a terrible error by Vito Mannone allowed them to keep their heads high and continue fighting. Had Mannone not made a mess of a seemingly innocuous cross, I suspect that The Blues would have felt just what their nickname implies.

We started with purpose. Rosicky (who will admit that he could have done better) missed the target twice within the first 15 minutes. The mood seemed right for a hammering. Robin was first on the scoresheet with a fine turn and finish from an Alex Song through ball.

Shortly after, Abou Diaby netted the second after good work by Eboue and Rosicky. It was nice to see him score with his left foot. I’ve noticed his struggles and frustration with it. I know Arsenal fans have lost patience with him but if Diaby can improve his concentration, consistency, and left foot, we’ll see a tremendous player.

Birmingham pulled one back from what seemed a very playable cross. Vito flailed at it, it bounced to model citizen Lee Bowyer who pounced on it for their lone goal. There you go Bowyer. You’ve scored against Arsenal. That’s your trophy this season. They came close twice in the Second Half but never really posed a threat to our current unbeaten run.

Our third goal came from what the manager has labeled “the football we love”. We caught Birmingham on the break – we were likely to as they pressed forward and left acres of space for us to exploit. Arshavin flanked Cesc on the left as we approached the their 18.

I thought, ‘goal’, and sure enough… It was a vintage Arshavin goal. He knew what he wanted to do before receiving the pass and well before anyone else did, especially before Joe Hart.

If I have to give any credit to Birmingham it’s on two fronts; first, for most of the match they hurried and scurried back when we had possession. They seem to have creating space for themselves in their own very crowded penalty area down to a science. There was one point when I counted eight blue shirts in there, plus the keeper. And it wasn’t while defending a corner. The other point would be that they managed to reach double digits in fouls in the First Half without a single booking. Now THAT is impressive. Too bad their approach to football isn’t.

Maybe if it were, we’d have more in common.

One final note; how did Kevin Phillips get so dark?

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