How Didier Drogba broke Arsenal’s trophy hopes in 2007 Cup Final

How Didier Drogba killed Arsenals hopes of League Cup Silverware in Wales

In 2007 Arsenal were on the hunt for their first league cup victory since clinching the trophy in 1993 versus Sheffield Wednesday however London rivals Chelsea would get in the way of their mission.

The Wenger boys got their 2006/07 Carling Cup journey off to a beginning against West Brom Albion away from home.  A young Jeremie Aliadiere netted twice on either side of the halftime whistle, with his latter coming from the penalty spot in the opening minutes of the second half to push The Gunners easily through to the fourth round.

Arsenal then travelled over four hours by coach to arrive at Goodison Park where an Everton, who had only been in the Champions League a season earlier under David Moyes denied the North Londoners for as long as possible.  With only five minutes left of normal time an unmarked Emmanuel Adebayor slotted a cheeky strike into the back of the net from a corner sealing a crucial 1-0 victory.

With Arsene Wenger’s men now in the quarterfinals of the competition they would have to commute back up to Merseyside to come face to face with Liverpool. In a completely unpredictable game of football Arsenal would trounce The Reds 6-3 witnessing Julio Baptista run riot during the occasion picking up a four-goal haul and missing a penalty during the 90 minutes whilst on loan from Real Madrid for the 2006/07 campaign.

Baptiste proved instrumental again for the first leg of the semi-finals versus arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur, scoring both goals in the ravaging 2-2 draw, rekindling Arsenal’s attacking spirit after going 2-0 down within 20 minutes, with the Brazilian more than making up for his earlier own goal.

In the second-leg Wenger’s troopers thought they had got away with a 3-2 win on aggregate when Adebayor smashed one in with 13 minutes left to go, little did they realise that eight minutes later they would concede with the contest going to extra-time after a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes. With moments left of the first half of extra-time Aliadiere popped up with the goal to turn the tide in favour of Arsenal again making it 2-1, before an own goal was let in by Spurs with seven minutes remaining of the second half of extra-time to see out The Gunners 3-1 winners.

It was now all or nothing in the final at Cardiff at the Millenium Stadium where Arsenal had lifted the FA Cup earlier on in 2005 on penalties against Manchester United after a 0-0 stalemate once the 120 minutes was up. Their opponent was Jose Mourinho’s (aka the so called Special One) Chelsea where he had won the Blues their first top-flight title in 50 years during the 2004/05 Premier League season.

A 17-year-old Theo Walcott would stride into the Chelsea box and send his finish into the far side of future Arsenal keeper’s net Petr Cech just after the ten-minute mark handing Arsenal the lead. However not long afterwards Didier Drogba the Blues main talisman made things level at 1-1 firing in from close range.

By halftime the score had stayed unchanged. Neither team were still able to crack the scoreline whilst approaching the final third of the game but with six minutes left ticking Drogba stole the show for Chelsea. On the 84th minute he rose above the Gunners defence within their area to head in the winner. Wenger’s men had been beaten 2-1 with their hopes of silverware tantalisingly gone for the season- just like that.

Arsenal would have to wait another four years before appearing in the final of any major competition which turned out to be the 2010/11 League Cup final again where they were defeated by Birmingham City 2-1 who were relegated from the Premiership that year.

Liam Harding

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