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The History Boys: the League Cup Final

We flick through the archives to see if there’s any lessons that Arsenal and Birmingham should be aware of as they prepare for Sunday’s Carling Cup showdown.

1. In the league cup final, the form book often goes out the window.

No matter what name you choose to call it by, the league cup usually provides its fair share of upsets. Of course, this would happen a lot less frequently if top-flight managers treated the competition with a little bit of respect.

One of the biggest shocks of all came in 1988 when Luton overturned defending champions Arsenal at Wembley. The underdogs battled until the very end, eventually turning a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 with goals from Danny Wilson and Brian Stein in the last ten minutes.

2. Sometimes it pays to take a bit of a risk.

Those who try to score acrobatic goals are either incredibly self-confident or incredibly stupid.

Without passing judgement on Manchester City’s Dennis Tueart, his bicycle kick in the 1976 League Cup final could have spectacularly misfired. With the game poised on a knife-edge, now was hardly the time for some showboating. Fortunately for the striker, he connected perfectly, his goal giving City a 2-1 win over Newcastle.

The line between genius and lunacy really is a fine one.

3. Don’t make Arsene get involved in any unseemly brawls. He won’t thank you for it.

Time was just about up in the 2007 final when all hell broke lose on the Millennium Stadium pitch. I’m not quite sure what John Obi Mikel said to Kolo Toure, but it certainly set the Arsenal man off.

As Jose Mourinho unsurprisingly inserted himself at the centre of the melee, Arsene Wenger trudged after him, anxious that nobody could accuse him of shirking his peacekeeping duties.

He didn’t look happy about it though. Check out his gesture to Andriy Shevchenko at about 0:35.

4. If the opportunity for a celebration presents itself, grab it with both hands …

Jose’s famous reaction to Stephen Gerrard’s o.g. in the 2005 final may have been one of his more understated touchline celebrations but, judging by the reaction of the Liverpool fans, it certainly got the message across.

Classy, eh?

5.but whatever you do, don’t lift any of your team-mates up.

A Wembley cup final is a very good time to open your goalscoring account.

Considering the importance of Steve Morrow’s first goal in an Arsenal shirt, one can forgive Tony Adams for picking Morrow up in celebration after the final whistle had blown. Of course, dropping Morrow and causing him to dislocate his shoulder is slightly less forgivable.

At least Adams had the decency to visit his team-mate in hospital.

Image courtesy of Teamtalk