If you win the Carling Cup, for me, you cannot really say you win 'trophies. This was what Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said last year when asked why he didn't consider the Carling Cup important. Little did he know then that he had just uttered something which would come back to haunt him.
Disbelief quickly turned to despair for the Gunners when miscommunication between Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny saw Birmingham's Obafemi Martins tap-in the winner with just stoppage time left to play. It made for a horrible end to the week for Arsenal fans who were increasingly hopeful that their six-year wait for a trophy would end against a relegation threatened Birmingham side.
The North-Londoners remain in the hunt for three other trophies though. They're four points off leaders Manchester United in the league and hold a 2-1 aggregate lead against Barcelona in the Champions League. The crucial point after this tie is this - A loss at the very end of a cup final and especially the manner in which it came, can potentially break the remainder of the season for a young team like Arsenal.
It's a test of the team's spirit. Being one of the youngest teams in the Premier Leauge, Arsenal may suffer a serious blip in confidence. 20-year-old Szczesny could suffer long-standing damage to his self-confidence after committing the decisive mistake in his first major final. It is up to Wenger to lift them up from this undoubtedly morale draining outcome and ensure his squad doesn't lose faith in themselves.
In the post match interview, Wenger said as much, but insisted his team had the metal strength to come back. He told BBC Sport, The players are disappointed but we have to pick ourselves up, that's what a team is about. It's a good opportunity to show our mental strength which I think is great.
About the mix-up which led to the goal, he said, A little misunderstanding had a great consequence on the game and both players (Szczesny and Koscielny) are destroyed. I blame no-one. When these things happen late in the game there is no time to rectify it.
On Szczesny, he added, What can you say? You have to be positive because he (Szczesny) is a young boy. He has to pick himself up from that goal and hopefully he can do that.
Arsenal have a realistic chance to win both the Premiership and the Champions League, but the upcoming FA Cup replay against Leyton Orient and the weekend visit of Sunderland has suddenly become make-or-break ties. It'll take all of Wenger's and skipper Fabregas' motivational skills to lift the team.
After the game, many of the Arsenal players tweeted apologies to the Arsenal fans. That isn't enough though. They have to put in performances which will jolt a real challenge to the remaining three trophies. The question is - Are they big enough to do it?