Monday 28th February 2011
Very rarely do we hear a post-match interview with a manager where he admits any of the goals his team had conceded that day were actually down to good offensive play. The vast majority of the time he will claim it is down to defensive mistakes.
Listening to them I have often found myself thinking just maybe the attacker had made a good run and outwitted the defender or just maybe it was a fine piece of football that the defence could do little about.
Yesterday at Wembley however, nobody can argue with the fact the winning goal was down to an unfortunate mistake.
The most disappointing aspect was the fact it came at the end of probably our best spell in the whole game, 'Man of the Match' Ben Foster having made a number of fine saves in the build-up.
Of course we all know on paper we went into the game as favourites and were expected to win in the opinion of all 'experts'. To quote a cliche however, football isn't played on paper so those of us who go week-in week-out also knew anything could happen, especially after losing two of arguably our most influential players in the tough Stoke encounter.
Like all of us I'm pig sick. Nothing anyone can say will be a consolation. Of the many many Cup Finals I have been fortunate enough to witness down the years, that feeling never changes. There is simply no middle ground, gut-wrenching disappointment or total ecstacy.
There's nothing I can say about the game that hasn't already been analysed a million times. For what it's worth I don't think we played particularly brilliantly but I have definitely see us play a lot worse. Birmingham played well I felt but the fact their goalkeeper won all the pundits' man of the match choice confirms we created enough to have won the game on another day.
As extra time approached I was pretty confident we would go on to win, our domination in the latter stages of normal time leading me to that optimism. None of us could have predicted what happened with time running out however, especially as it involved two players who have looked so assured for many weeks now.
Our opponents picked up their first silverware for 48 years and congratulations to them. Despite three finals, a couple of semis and annual Champions League football demonstrating not only how close we have been but also our incredible consistency, the media and other fans will continue to revel in the fact we haven't quite crossed that line for almost six years.
As proud Gooners we must take that on the chin, move on to the next game in the way only football allows you to and get behind the team as we all strive to go on to bigger things.
That starts of course with the visit of Leyton Orient.
Keep the faith.
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