It took Arsenal an hour to break the frustrating logjam. But in the end Nicklas Bendtner, Laurent Kosicielny, and Cesc Fabregas booked the Gunners to their first Carling Cup final since 2007 and a shot at their first silverware since the 2005 FA Cup. The first half was marked by Robin Van Persie’s solitary attempt which struck his mortal enemy, the woodwork (this must be his umpteenth time he’s hit either the upright or the crossbar). To prove that point once again, his header clanged of the crossbar after Bendtner set him up for one more chance in the second half.
With every nerve racking minute gone by the anxiety levels were reaching stratospheric levels. Was it going to be another evening of frustrating football without any goals and Ipswich making history? Fabregas missed another chance from a sublime pass by the tireless Jack Wilshere.
It was Wilshere who finally provided the breakthrough as he swept a long pass that Bendtner was able to collect while remaining onside. The Danish striker cut inside Carlos Edwards and curled his shot past Martin Fulop, no slouch in goal, with elan. Say what you will Bendtner does not lack confidence. The Emirates exhaled a collective sigh of relief. Arsenal 1 Ipswich 1 on aggregate. Game on.
The Ipswich custodian was at fault two minutes later when he came off his line ill advisedly following an Andrey Arshavin corner only to find Laurent Koscielny beating him to the punch with his header. The icing on the cake was provided by Cesc Fabregas 10 minutes later latching onto a return pass from Arshavin and nutmegging Fulop.
The League Cup maybe on the lower end of the totem pole. In the past Arsene Wenger has treated it with almost seeming contempt bringing out his B and sometimes C side. He’s come to the realization that success however small will be a huge fillip to a squad that has has not seen any and has forgotten how to win silverware. Success breeds success. Only Gael Clichy amongst them was part of the 2005 FA Cup winning squad. Winning the Carling Cup will be the first step in unlocking that mental block that has kept the Gunners from winning the bigger prizes.