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Cup Upsets Involving Arsenal (Part Three)

Continuing the series which looks at some of those times when Arsenal were on the wrong end of a cup upset.

For Part One please click here; and Part Two here.

Real Zaragoza, UEFA European Cup Winners Cup Final 1995

In 1994, Arsenal, against the odds, had won the European Cup Winners Cup final in Copenhagen, beating a highly rated Parma team that included the likes of Gianfranco Zola, Tomas Brolin, and Faustino Asprilla, despite fielding a weakened side and having only one shot on target all game.

A year later, despite having lost legendary manager George Graham, fired after the infamous “Bung” scandal, they were back in the final again, and this time they started heavily favourites against the Spanish side Real Zaragoza.

However, the team disappointed in the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, and, for large parts of the match, failed to show the form that had got them there in the first place.

The first half was goalless, but midway through the second half Juan Esnáider opened the scoring for the Spanish side, only for John Hartson to equalise for the Gunners with 13 minutes left.

No further goals occurred in normal time and the match entered extra time. Again, that failed to produce a winner, until, with penalties looming, However, with almost the last kick of the match, midfielder Nayim scored with a 45 yard lob from wide on the right, sailing the ball over the head of the stranded Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman.

To make matters worse for the distressed Arsenal fans in the stands and watching at home, Nayim used to play for their hated North London rivals Tottenham, something Spurs fans were not slow to remind them of the next time the two sides met.

Birmingham City, League Cup Final, 2011

Unlike the FA Cup, where they have the best record of any side in terms of sins, the League Cup has been less kind to Arsenal over the years, and some of their biggest upsets have occurred in this competition.

Indeed, for all his achievements during his time at the club, Arsène Wenger never won this competition, although the 2011 final against a Birmingham side that went on to be relegated later that season seemed to represent an excellent chance to break that duck.

The match began in controversial fashion when Birmingham’s Lee Bowyer was brought down by Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny for what appeared to be a penalty kick and a red card for the Pole, only for it to be ruled out because Bowyer was deemed offside, a decision that replays showed was incorrect.

Arsenal were the better side, but it was Birmingham who took the lead in the 28th minute when a corner was flicked in past Szczesny. Robin van Persie equalised 11 minutes later and the sides went into the break all square.

Both teams hit the woodwork in the second half, but the match seemed headed for extra time when a long ball was lofted towards the Arsenal goal. There seemed no danger, but Laurent Koscielny and Szczesny got in each other’s way, and the ball fell to Obafemi Martins who rolled it into the unguarded net.

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