Arsenal vs Birmingham – Don’t write off the 6/1 outsiders
Arsenal head to Wembley on an 11-match unbeaten run but anyone that believes that they already have their first piece of silverware in six seasons sewn up could be in for a surprise.
The Gunners are overwhelming favourites to take the trophy in 90 minutes at 1/2 and on recent form it’s easy to understand why they are so fancied, having beaten the Blues twice already in the Premier League and gone ten games without defeat against top-flight teams.
The loss of captain Cesc Fabregas to injury is of huge significance though as the midfielder has been the difference maker in all three of their domestic cup successes in 2011, scoring vital goals against Leeds, Huddersfield and Ipswich, while missing the Leyton Orient draw.
Birmingham have shown surprising cup pedigree by progressing through eight ties in the two competitions and are a team for the big occasion too having lost only one of their nine clashes with top-eight clubs besides those aforementioned poor showings against Arsenal.
Odds of 6/1 on them shocking the north Londoners therefore look very large, while it’s 3/1 that the final heads to extra time for the fourth time in seven years.
If you do fancy Alex McLeish to triumph in his sixth successive cup final but don’t believe that Birmingham can do it in 90 minutes, they are 11/4 to be crowned champions by any means.
Both teams have scored in eight of the last 11 Carling Cup Finals and it’s 5/6 for that to again be the case, while Birmingham to score two or more is an intriguing option at 16/5 as they have done so seven times already in cup games this season.
Of all the players available to play at Wembley, Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner is the chief goal-getter in the competition with three strikes to his name and he is 9/2 to close the scoring against a club he once had a spell on loan at.
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