At the final whistle Arsenal's players stood, sat or knelt on the lush emerald turf like figures in a tableau of despair. Motionless, traumatised, suddenly drained of the last vestiges of belief and hope and even pride, they looked dismayingly like Bayern Munich after Manchester United had finished with the German side at the Camp Nou in 1999.
Jack Wilshere hit the crossbar here and Robin van Persie was the author of one of the most beautiful goals ever scored in a Wembley final – surely, at least, the best ever scored by a player on the losing side – but Tomas Rosicky's bungled attempt to backheel a clear chance into the net with 10 minutes left somehow epitomised Arsenal's display on an evening when they failed in the attempt to win their first trophy since 2005.
So stunning was the defeat that they will find it difficult to recover their morale, although the press of events in the Premier League and the European Cup over the coming weeks may serve to take their minds off a disastrous day. Pointing to the enforced absence of Cesc Fábregas, Thomas Vermaelen and Theo Walcott will not help. A club with Arsenal's ambitions and resources – they have 19 players out on loan – should have acquired the capacity to ride such misfortunes.
On paper, this was a mismatch: thoroughbreds versus mongrels. Of such contrasts are cup classics made, and in the eyes of more than one neutral the two sides produced arguably the best football match yet seen at the new Wembley. To make it so, the occasion required not just Birmingham City's honest effort, dogged persistence and resilient structure but Arsenal's insecurity and anxiety, a neurosis born of the weight of the expectation, conscious or otherwise, that they would ease their way to victory by virtue of their superior class.
It would not be too harsh to suggest that Arsenal got exactly what they and their manager deserved for a performance that began with the most blatant piece of undeserved good fortune, contained enough individual mistakes to fill an entire season and ended with the sort of defending that a team produces when not enough attention is paid to constructing a side equally strong and self-confident in all areas.
There is no due date. Failure to turn in a paper will not reduce final grade, nor will turning in a paper increase it.
- It's not Gary Seven, it's Elric 7, and he's AARP eligible today!
- Something to think about today. I do wonder who will have enough money to buy all the shit that needs selling for me to tread water, which is where my complicity is these days.
- The future.
- Ban Wind Power!
- Divide and conquer.
- Targeting dividers.
- The beauty of Ron Paul.
- Tab-clearing link fart.
- ICC! Planet and I took it yesterday for kicks. Was weird.
- Robert Aickman?
- Lisa Robertson.
- The two novelists he didn't mention.
- The unbearable whiteness of British literature.
- Entitled to opinions.
- RIP Diane Izzo. Stevie used to play her on KEXP and I bought a CD or two, but that was a decade ago, and to be honest, I'd forgot about her.
- Darkblack's Sunday Overnight.
IN VIEW OF THE FACT
The people of my time are passing away: my wife is baking for a funeral, a 60-year-old who died suddenly, when the phone rings, and it's Ruth we care so much about in intensive care: it was once weddings that came so thick and fast, and then, first babies, such a hullabaloo: now, it's this that and the other and somebody else gone or on the brink: well, we never thought we would live forever (although we did) and now it looks like we won't: some of us are losing a leg to diabetes, some don't know what they went downstairs for, some know that a hired watchful person is around, some like to touch the cane tip into something steady, so nice: we have already lost so many, brushed the loss of ourselves ourselves: our address books for so long a slow scramble now are palimpsests, scribbles and scratches: our index cards for Christmases, birthdays, Halloweens drop clean away into sympathies: at the same time we are getting used to so many leaving, we are hanging on with a grip to the ones left: we are not giving up on the congestive heart failure or brain tumors, on the nice old men left in empty houses or on the widows who decide to travel a lot: we think the sun may shine someday when we'll drink wine together and think of what used to be: until we die we will remember every single thing, recall every word, love every loss: then we will, as we must, leave it to others to love, love that can grow brighter and deeper till the very end, gaining strength and getting more precious all the way. . . .