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Gunners a tough nut - Larsson

Birmingham winger Sebastian Larsson believes his former club Arsenal are a physically tougher side from last season and are "ready to start winning major trophies again".

But Larsson hopes to make the Gunners wait a little longer to end their six-year drought by triumphing in tomorrow's Carling Cup final.

The Sweden international is full of admiration for the way Arsene Wenger's side have continued to play "the beautiful game" despite a failure to lift any silverware since their victory over Manchester United in the 2005 FA Cup final.

But Larsson also feels Arsenal now have that toughness about their game which, harnessed to their skills, means they are once again a formidable force.

"Arsenal are not the type of team you can kick off the park any more," he said. "They are very physically strong now and you can forget about just playing that tactic.

"They might be tougher but not once has Arsene gone away from his type of football. That's what he believes in and that's what the whole club believes in, throughout the youth system and upwards.

"It's beautiful football. It's passing and movement. One of the most difficult things when you play against Arsenal is their movement off the ball.

"It's maybe not the most difficult thing to be the guy with the ball at Arsenal because they create options and move around so well and that is what makes it so difficult facing them."

Another former Arsenal player, Alexander Hleb, remains Birmingham's biggest injury doubt with a knee problem suffered in the FA Cup last weekend. With on-loan Tottenham winger David Bentley cup-tied, Lee Bowyer could earn a recall to the starting line-up.

Irish Independent