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It was Chelsea’s first team versus Arsenal’s second in the Carling Cup Final. No Henry, Lehmann, Gallas, Eboue, Adebayor, Gilberto, Rosicky or Hleb in the starting lineup for the Gunners, Arsene Wenger staying true to his word about playing his youngsters giving them what they deserve – a Cup Final. But when it was all said and done the ghost of Didier Drogba wasn’t done haunting Senderos. Drogba supplied a great header to a Robben pass and Senderos was way too late to contest Drogba. 2-1 Chelsea the final.

With a little more experience, slightly better defending and Henry instead of Baptista in there, this would’ve been Arsenal’s game. But take nothing away from Arsenal, their youngsters showed no signs of big match nerves and if anything it was the veterans that let the team down.

Equal possession early on but Arsenal playing much more confidently and creating chances for Fabregas and Baptista after carefully dissecting the Chelsea defense. Baptista unleashing a strong effort between John Terry’s legs which Czech managed to get a finger tip on. On the ensuing corner, Chelsea fans starting throwing stuff on the pitch as Fabregas is about to take the corner. Drogba can’t clear the corner and Fabregas gets the ball right before some nifty passing by Arsenal finds Walcott all alone with just Czech to beat from seven yards. The youngster makes no mistake. His first for Arsenal comes at a crucial time. The commentators were pure Chelsea supporters, they kept making excuses for John Terry everytime they had a chance.

Theo Walcott 1-0

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yXOcnRt5xs]

After twenty minute Chelsea had yet to manage anything of consequence with Lampard’s effort being blocked nicely by Senderos. At this point the commentator mentions that Arsene Wenger has yet to beat Jose Mourinho which makes me very angry for some reason. Arsenal are on a 3 on 2 break when Baptista waits way too long before deciding on doing anything and ends up giving the ball away. On the counter-attack, the off-side flag incorrectly stayed down and Drogba was alone on the right with just Almunia to beat and he did so by going through his legs. Just before Chelsea scored, Arsenal had a chance to go ahead 2-0 but instead it’s 1-1. Traore having some serious trouble in the left-back position with Toure having to help out too often allowing Chelsea to create chances and Drogba and Shevchenko focusing their attacks entirely on Traore.

Didier Drogba 1-1

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A nice run by Diaby on the left really showcased his skill but after an exchange of passes, his shot had no string from 10 yards out and humbly rolled to Czech. Arsenal, after regressing for about 10 minutes showed creativity and desire to go forward. But nothing on either side of any weight until Baptista is too late to connect with the header from the right and Czech collects. Later on Aliadiere breaks down John Terry and all he’s got to do is beat Carvalho but the Portugese gets a good foot on it. Arsenal with a great chance to take the lead. The commentators really love John Terry, they blame his injury instead of giving Aliadiere credit.

Second half starts out with a flurry with Arjen Robben reading the Shevchenko run but the pass is an inch too far. Abu Diaby finds open space on the left and the pass to him is perfect but his shot across goal is saved by Czech who covers the goal well. A better effort by Diaby might have beaten Czech. Diaby was running rampant in the second half, forcing free kicks and causing problems for Chelsea. This guy just made a case to be playing in the Champions League.

The contact on the John Terry injury was purely accidental – he wanted to score and Diaby wanted to prevent it from happening, nothing malicious on the part of Diaby whatsoever. Terry is substituted and Essien drops back to defense. On the other side, it appears Walcott can get past Wayne Bridge anytime he wants and Arsenal probably should have looked more to exploit that advantage but Chelsea go off the hook there. At 66 minutes, Traore replaces Eboue, the youngster was having his share of troubles on the field today, especially early on. Alexander Hleb replaced Diaby which was a little suprising, Diaby was playing well and covering the length of the field with his runs.

John Terry Knocked Out

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TERXgr5lZ00]

Adebayor came in for Aliadiere who had a decent game and anytime there was service for him, he made something good of it. The Arsenal youngsters had a good overall showing, it was just moments of lapsed concentration that cost them this one.

Late in the second half is when Drogba struck for his second, a goal that would have been easily preventable had Senderos done his homework and paid even a little attention to what Drogba wanted to do. Arsenal didn’t have a single decent corner in the game with Czech collecting most of them easily. Exact same could be said for freekicks with Fabregas and Baptista’s efforts always hitting the wall, we really missed Henry here.

Didier Drogba 2-1 (These Korean commentators are awesome)

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In the end, it was mayhem, red cards were everywhere. An injury time brawl ended up with Howard Webb dismissing Jon Obi, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor. Adebayor continued to jaw at Webb and had to be hauled off the pitch. He’ll definitely be facing an FA charge. Here’s a few pictures that tell the story:

toure lampard carling cup arsenal chelsea brawl carling cup adebayor arsenal chelsea brawl carling cup final

After the final whistle, I just switched it off.