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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

Arsenal seek end to trophy drought in League Cup final

Posted: 26 Feb 2011 06:17 PM PST

LONDON, Feb 27 — Arsenal are heavy favourites to win their first major trophy for six years when they face Premier League strugglers Birmingham City in the League Cup final at Wembley today.

Their last silverware of note came in the 2005 FA Cup, a relative drought for a side who became accustomed to glory in the first six seasons of manager Arsene Wenger's tenure.

"I don't know if not winning a trophy for a few years puts more pressure on us or not," Wenger said. "All I do know is that when you go into a final you desperately want to win it."

Arsenal, who will be without injured captain Cesc Fabregas and winger Theo Walcott, have beaten Birmingham twice in the league this season and have not lost to them in eight meetings.

Birmingham, in 16th place in the league two points above the drop zone, are bidding to claim their first major silverware since they won the League Cup for the only time in 1963.

However, manager Alex McLeish has tasted plenty of success before on the big stage having won a host of league title and cups when in charge of Rangers in Scotland.

"All I look for and all I can ask of my players is to give me individually first and foremost real assured performance levels and then we have a chance if we come together as a team and every individual gives their all," he told the club website ( — Reuters


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Mourinho complains about calendar after Deportivo draw

Posted: 26 Feb 2011 05:36 PM PST

MADRID, Feb 27 — Jose Mourinho hit out at Spain's football authorities after the 0-0 draw at Deportivo Coruna yesterday, saying his Real Madrid players had not been given enough rest after Tuesday's Champions League match.

The dropped points at Depor's Riazor stadium enabled Barcelona to stretch their lead at the top of La Liga to seven points with 25 games played after the champions won 3-0 at Real Mallorca in yesterday's earlier kickoff.

Mourinho, whose side drew 1-1 in their Champions League last-16, first leg at Olympique Lyon on Tuesday, told a news conference it would have been easier on Real if they had been allowed to play Depor on Sunday (today).

"I don't know what would have happened if we had played on Sunday (today) but it would have been fairer," the Portuguese said.

"We could have given an extra day off to those who were most tired, we could have trained an extra day," he added.

"The calendar is set by people who know what they are doing. They do what they want and they will carry on like that."

Real, who twice struck a post late on, face a stiff task to catch Barcelona and end their great rivals' two-year reign as Spanish champions.

However, Real director general Jorge Valdano said it would be absurd to give up on the title with 13 matches remaining and 39 points still available.

"Nobody gives up on the league in February so we will keep on fighting and see if we have a bit more luck in the next few matches," the former Argentina international said in a television interview.

"The team played with a lot of intensity as usual but we were unable to find the net," he added. "We weren't clinical enough in front of goal and we were also lacking in luck." — Reuters


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