This weekend, Arsenal will return to Wembley for a League Cup final for the first time in seven years, so let’s look at how things have changed in that time for the two finalists.
1That was then
Back in 2011, Arsenal faced Birmingham City in the League Cup final. In the build up to the game, all the talk was either about ending the trophy drought (which was in its sixth year), or the club’s potential quadruple-winning season.
That might sound ridiculous now, but at the time it didn’t seem so out of the question.
Arsenal were just one point off Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table, and the title race was still very much alive.
In the League Cup Arsenal only had to beat Birmingham to pick up the trophy, and in the FA Cup Leyton Orient were all that stood in the way of a spot in the quarter finals.
Finally, in the Champions League, Arsenal had just beaten the best team in Europe, Barcelona and they had a 2-1 advantage to take to Camp Nou.
By contrast, that same day Manchester City were dropping points to Fulham.
After their 1-1 draw, they sat 10 points off the league leaders. They were already out of the League Cup, and playing in the Europa League. The only positives were it looked like they might qualify for the Champions League, and they were still in the FA Cup.
Even City’s trophy drought was significantly longer. They’d gone almost exactly 35 years since winning the League Cup in 1976. As for winning the league, they had last managed that in 1967/68, compared to Arsenal’s fairly fresh 2003/04 campaign.
Since that day, however, the two clubs completely switched fortunes…