Full-time - 90'
0 - 3
17:30 +00:00, January 1, 2011
St Andrews Stadium, England
Referee: Peter Walton
FULL TIME Their first goal was controversial, but Arsenal were very impressive in the second half, with Fabregas and Nasri outstanding. Arsenal are now two points behind Man Utd and Man City, having played a game more than the former and one less than the latter.
More beguiling football from Arsenal in the Birmingham box results in a corner for the away side.
A scramble ensues in the Arsenal box when the corner is delivered but Birmingham cannot convert after the bar scrapes against the bar. That should just about be that.
Djourou meets a Phillips cross and Birmingham have a late corner.
We will have three minutes of added time.
Cesc Fabregas produces a glorious pass to find Van Persie, unmarked and two yards out. However, his header lacks the power to beat Foster.
The chants of "Eduardo" ring out around St Andrew's again. Arsenal supporters are still raw at the memory of that horrible incident.
Arshavin plays in Van Persie with a lovely ball but Dann and Johnson both throw themselves in to challenge the Dutchman.
Arsenal string together another flowing move, with Song getting in on the act with a backheel. They have played some wonderful stuff today.
Carr gets into an advanced position and produces a dangerous, rifled cross that is deflected behind for a corner.
Arshavin, of all people, harries and chases, forcing Stephen Carr into a mistake. Perhaps being dropped from the starting XI has given him a little kick up the bum.
Arsenal work the corner short and into the box before Denilson's shot is deflected behind for another corner.
Arshavin almost scores with his first touch. Van Persie teed him up with a lovely little pass but Foster threw himself across goal to turn the shot round the post.
Wilshere turned 19 today, and while he had one of his quieter games, it is amazing to reflect that he is now an established member of Arsenal's first XI at such a tender age.
Birmingham replace Cameron Jerome with Kevin Phillips.
Arshavin and Denilson are on, but it is Wilshere and Walcott who are given a rest.
Zigic beats Fabianski to a high ball but he is adjudged to be offside.
Alex Hleb tests Wilshere with a run near the touchline and after conceding a corner, the Arsenal man boots the ball into the stands in anger.
Arsenal are readying Andrei Arshavin and Denilson on the touchline. Nasri and Fabregas to come off perhaps?
Birmingham have lost at home only once this season, underlining just what a superb result this is for Arsenal.
Arsenal indulge in some intricate passing in the Birmingham box that comes to little, and why not? They have been excellent today.
Alex Song fizzes a pass into Walcott and the winger takes a couple of touches before testing Foster with a low effort. A nice effort.
This is one of those games where Arsenal look a class apart and you think they must be serious contenders. However, as we know, they are usually prone to a shock result or two.
Robin van Persie plays a glorious little pass into the path of Fabregas, who rifles his shot over the bar.
Bowyer is taken off before he gets himself sent off, with Nikola Zigic on in his place.
Replays show Bowyer, again, with a dirty challenge on Sagna. He escaped punishment though.
Nasri and Fabregas exchange a succession of glorious passes, with the latter then forcing Foster into a save at his near post. The ball bounces off the goalkeeper, against Scott Dann and finally against Johnson before nestling in the net. Own goal.
Hleb looks to give Arsenal the runaround but he is closed down by red shirts.
Jack Wilshere requires treatment following a kick from Craig Gardner but it is not serious and he will continue.
And referencing one of those, in 2008, the Arsenal fans start chanting Eduardo's name. This was of course the ground where Martin Taylor shattered his leg.
Well it looks for all the world as though Arsenal will be avoiding another nightmarish draw at Birmingham.
Former Gunner Alex Hleb replaces Jean Beausejour.
It is a wonderful strike from Arsenal's man of the moment, Samir Nasri. He swiftly exchanges passes with Fabregas before taking aim from the edge of the box and finding the corner. Nasri now has 13 goals this season. What a player.
Birmingham could do with making a change really. Arsenal are well on top and should have put the result beyond doubt. As they haven't, it gives Blues a chance, but they need to capitalise.
Another chance goes begging! Fabregas played in Nasri and Foster raced off his line to get a hand to the midfielder's effort. Nasri really should have made it 2-0.
Arsenal should have scored! Walcott picked out a fine cross for Nasri and after he cushioned a pass back to Wilshere, the birthday boy fired his volley over the bar.
Replays show that Lee Bowyer stamped on Bacary Sagna a few minutes ago. He should have been sent off.
Van Persie's subsequent free-kick is headed clear by Roger Johnson.
Scott Dann has a tug of Walcott's shirt, and that is a blatant booking.
Carr takes revenge when fouling the Spanish midfielder. This game has got a real edge to it.
Stephen Carr is in some pain after a stray boot from Fabregas catches him in the face, but he plays on regardless.
Fabregas squares for Walcott and the winger produces a horrible shot that he drags right across goal. Disappointing.
Barry Ferguson dinks a lovely pass over the top for Liam Ridgewell, who is in acres of space in the box. However, the defender is given offside.
Arsenal won't look to change anything, I wouldn't have thought. They have created plenty of chances, with Cesc Fabregas very influential in midfield.
I fancy we might see some of Nikola Zigic before too long, the giant Serbian scored against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium and has the presence to unsettle the visiting defence and goalkeeper.
Let me just alert you to the fact that we have jazzed up the Soccernet twitter page. So get following people.
So Arsenal lead thanks to Van Persie's deflected free-kick. However, the Dutchman may well have dived to win the set-piece and later handballed in the box. I don't think Alex McLeish will be amused at all.
We will have two minutes of first-half injury time after what has been a tetchy 45 minutes at St Andrew's.
Cameron Jerome's boot lands on the ankle of Koscielny as he jumps over the defender but it was not deliberate.
Gael Clichy does well to produce a fine cross from Walcott, but the winger's cushioned volley with his left instep is easy for Foster to gather.
Fabianski charges off his line to punch a cross from Scott Dann and does well to clear. That cannot always be said of the Pole.
Johan Djourou hobbles off the pitch after a heavy fall, but it appears he will be able to continue.
Fabregas feeds Jack Wilshere with a fine through ball and he bides his time before attempting to find Nasri with a pull-back. The Frenchman stretches but cannot reach the ball.
A glorious exchange of passes between Nasri and Van Persie releases the Dutchman, who feeds Fabregas in the box. However, his first touch allows the ball to escape his grasp.
At the other end, Walcott drags a shot wide of the upright from 20 yards.
A huge miss for Birmingham! Larsson's delivery is flicked on by Jerome and Johnson gets in behind, but he volleys over the bar from close range. That was a shocker.
Van Persie, who has now won a free-kick in dubious circumstances and escaped a penalty, appears to think he is offside when one-on-one with Foster and scoops the ball into the goalkeeper's hands. He wasn't though, and now he looks a touch foolish.
Larsson's free-kick is headed back across goal by Roger Johnson and Birmingham appeal for a handball. Nothing given, though replays show Van Persie did handle. That should have been a penalty.
Johan Djourou pulls down Cameron Jerome, who was looking to speed through on goal. The close presence of Koscielny prevents a red.
The TV cameras cut to Alexander Hleb, sat on the Birmingham bench. It's been quite a steep fall from grace for the midfielder since his move from Arsenal to Barcelona.
Fabregas spins, twists and then spots Theo Walcott haring through the centre. His pass is perfect, but the winger cannot control the ball and Ben Foster gratefully collects.
Van Persie takes the free-kick and produces a dangerous cross for Djourou, who stumbles and fails to get on the end of the set-piece.
Liam Ridgewell fells Theo Walcott to earn a booking.
Fabianski releases Nasri with a quick throw and after the Frenchman drives down the wing, he slips a pass to Van Persie, who is in a fantastic position. However, his control deserts him and the chance is wasted.
The ball falls very kindly for Jean Beausejour as Arsenal attempt to clear the free-kick but he scuffs his volley. That was a pretty horrible effort.
Johan Djourou runs into the back of Cameron Jerome, giving away a free-kick 35 yards from goal. It looks as though Larsson will be delivering this into the box.
There is a flashpoint between Larsson and Nasri after a tussle for the ball and the Frenchman puts his hand in Larsson's face. It was a case of mere handbags, but inadvisable nonetheless.
It certainly is a combative encounter, with tackles flying in across the pitch.
When Birmingham do win possession Craig Gardner flicks a low cross into the box that Fabianski grabs.
Arsenal are exerting real control over the game now, with Cesc Fabregas becoming ever more influential.
Van Persie clears at the near post. Arsenal will be grateful as Fabianski isn't particularly convincing when it comes to corners, is he?
Larsson it is, and he draws a fine diving save from Lukasz Fabianski. Corner to Birmingham.
St Andrew's erupts in ironic cheers when Birmingham and awarded a free-kick of their own. Former Gunners Seb Larsson is a threat from these positions.
One such ball from Gardner releases Jerome down the right but Koscielny comes across and halts his run with a firm tackle.
So how do Birmingham respond to that early strike? By flinging the ball up to Cameron Jerome by the looks of things.
Van Persie takes the free-kick and his effort deflects off Lee Bowyer in the wall and past Ben Foster. Predictably, the Birmingham supporters are far from amused. It did look a soft award.
"Same old Arsenal, always cheating" chant the home supporters when Scott Dann pulls Robin van Persie down 20 yards from goal.
At the other end, Cameron Jerome is through on goal but after rightly being given offside, he belts the ball wide.
The ball is rolled off to Van Persie and his fierce, curling effort is clutched by Ben Foster.
Arsenal are awarded an indirect free-kick in the Birmingham box after Ben Foster picks up a backpass.
Samir Nasri shows superb poise and control to slip away from two men on the edge of his own box, but it was a risky move. Whatever happened to hoofing it into Row Z?
Fabregas is able to play on and Birmingham clear from the subsequent free-kick.
Johnson goes into the book for the tackle, and replays show he was off the floor with his studs up. It wasn't pretty.
Roger Johnson slams into a tackle on Cesc Fabregas, leaving the Arsenal man writhing in pain. It looked a bad one.
Craig Gardner fells Cesc Fabregas some 25 yards from goal but Robin van Persie can only slam the set piece into the wall. A chance wasted by a player who can do better,
Jack Wilshere loses possession with a slack pass to Gael Clichy but Birmingham are unable to retain the ball and Cameron Jerome is dispossessed.
Laurent Koscielny gets up well to head clear from a high ball. Today is a real test for the defender, who has been less than convincing since joining the club this summer.
The Gunners carve out their first chance. Cesc Fabregas shifts the ball out wide to Theo Walcott, who powers past Liam Ridgewell and fires in a low effort that flies wide of the near post.
Arsenal make a competent start and Cesc Fabregas seems to have a strong appeal for a free-kick just outside the Blues box, but nothing is given.
Birmingham, though, have lost only once at home since September 2009, with a Lee Bowyer goal denying Manchester United all three points recently.
This is a big game for the Gunners: fail to win, and they will be in trouble in the title race, despite Wenger's claim that it is theirs to win at present.
Both teams emerge from the tunnel, Samir Nasri resplendent in a snood as ever.
Arsenal revert to the team that defeated Chelsea 3-1, meaning Arsene Wenger has made eight changes following their draw at Wigan. Former Gunner Alex Hleb is on the bench for Blues, who boast a very impressive record on home turf.
West Ham's victory over Wolves earlier has plunged Birmingham into the bottom three. Meanwhile, Arsenal start the game five points behind Manchester United.
St Andrew's has not been a happy hunting ground for Arsenal in recent years. Last season, their title challenge ground to a halt thanks to Kevin Phillips' late equaliser, while 2008's game witnessed that horrendous injury to Eduardo, and William Gallas' strop.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Arsenal's trip to Birmingham. My name is Tom Adams and I'll be your guide for the evening's action.
Live updates will appear here from 1715 GMT.
Can Arsenal avoid a third damaging draw in four years at Birmingham City? Tom Adams previews Saturday's game.
Robin Van Persie