Birmingham City midfielder Craig Gardner has accused Arsenal of being "petrified" by Blues' tactics during the Carling Cup final.

21270 - Arsenal were 'petrified' - Gardner

Arsenal slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Wembley on Sunday, with Obafemi Martins striking in the last minute following a calamitous mix-up between Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczęsny.

The Gunners, who were searching for a first piece of silverware since 2005, struggled to penetrate the wall of defenders clogging the central areas, with most of their efforts coming from outside the 18-yard box.

Although Arsenal's chances were harmed by the injury-enforced withdrawal of Robin van Persie, who scored their equaliser following Nikola Zigic's opener, Gardner believes Alex McLeish's tactics had the decisive say in the outcome.

"It was brilliant because we started like a house on fire and really got into them - and you could see they were petrified and scared and then it all just went from there," Gardner told Sky Sports News.

"Big Ziggy [Zigic] scored then they got the equaliser, but we always thought we could go on and win it. Even at half-time we were saying it was there for us - and up stepped Oba [Martins] and it was brilliant."

Gardner reserved special praise for Zigic, who has now scored twice against Arsenal this season. The Serbia international struggled in the early part of the season after joining from Valencia - there were even suggestions he would leave in January - but he has been on fire of late, with four goals in his last five games.

"Big Ziggy played up front on his own and I think he bullied them. They were petrified of him, midfielders were running off big Ziggy and we caused them problems.

"Stephen Carr hit the nail on the head when he said Arsenal have got more ability in the changing room but we have got more heart."