Humiliating new low for Wenger as Arsenal's best hope of ending trophy drought is wrecked in penalty shootout by Bradford… the League Two minnows with a team that cost just 7,500
08:13 GMT, 12 December 2012
Bradford 1 Arsenal 1 (aet, 3-2 on pens)
For Bradford City – a club so long lost in the foothills of football's obscene money mountain – there will be a Capital One Cup semifinal and a shot at some real winter glory.
For sorry old Arsenal, there is only more failure and more ignominy. Seven-and-a-half years it has been since the Gunners and their manager Arsene Wenger laid their hands on something tangible.
With Christmas yet to come and go, only the FA Cup and Champions League remain after one more humiliation on a lengthening list.
How the penalty shootout drama unfolded…
We've done it: Bradford City players led by Blair Turgott (right) and Gary Jones (left) run to congratulate their goalkeeper
Jubilation: Bradford's players celebrate after Thomas Vermaelen hits the post, handing them the victory
Millionaires v minnows… Bradford's win was all the more dramatic because their team cost just 7,500 – compared to the 66.8m sum of Arsenal's side
Matt Duke FREE
Stephen Darby FREE
Carl McHugh FREE
Rory McArdie FREE
James Meredith FREE
Garry Thompson FREE
Nathan Doyle FREE
Gary Jones FREE
Will Atkinson FREE
James Hanson 7,500
Nahki Wells FREE
Wojciech Szczesny FREE
Bacary Sagna 6m
Per Mertesacker 8m
Thomas Vermaelen 10m
Kieran Gibbs FREE
Francis Coquelin FREE
Santi Cazorla 16m
Aaron Ramsey 5m
Jack Wilshere FREE
Lukas Podolski 11m
And this really was a humiliation.
Bradford City may have won on penalties but that only tells part of the
story. In truth, the team from League Two were superior to their
Barclays Premier League opponents for much of the night.
Ultimately, this will be remembered
as the first time Arsenal lost to opposition from the fourth tier since
the 1992 FA Cup defeat at Wrexham.
As such, there will be another inquest at the Emirates this week and rightly so. It is not good enough and Wenger knows it.
In this forgotten corner of West
Yorkshire, though, they wi l l celebrate and look forward to a January
windfall, maybe even a February trip to Wembley.
It is hard not to feel pleased for
them. Leading through a first-half goal from Garry Thompson – recently
of Scunthorpe and a veteran of 10 years at Morecambe – it took a
half-time rollicking from Wenger that was so loud it was heard in the
Bradford dressing room and a header from Thomas Vermaelen two minutes
from the end of normal time, to deny Bradford and breathe life into
Blushes spared: Thomas Vermaelen headed the equaliser for Arsenal to take the tie to extra time
Shock: Garry Thompson put Bradford a goal up against Arsenal
Delight: Vermaelen (left) and Jack Wilshere celebrate after the equaliser
Helpless: Thompson put the ball into the back of the net
How Gervinho somehow skewed a gilt-edged chance to equalise
Bradford: Duke, Darby, Meredith, McHugh, McArdle, Thompson (Jones 72), Atkinson (Turgott 92), Jones, Doyle, Hanson, Wells (Connell 74)
Subs not used: McLaughlin, Good, Ravenhill, Hines
Goal: Thompson 16
Booked: Wells, Doyle, Hanson
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Wilshere, Ramsey (Rosicky 69), Cazorla, Coquelin (Chamakh 60), Podolski (Oxlade-Chamberlain 69), Gervinho
Subs not used: Mannone, Squillaci, Jenkinson, Arteta
Goal: Vermaelen 88
Booked: Gervinho, Vermaelen
Referee: Mike Dean
After surviving some pressure from
their illustrious visitors in added time, though, Bradford progressed
courtesy of the shoot-out.
Remarkably, they have now won their
last nine penalty contests. Santi Cazorla and Marouane Chamakh did not
exactly exhibit the best body language as they ambled up to take
Arsenal's first two kicks.
Sure enough, the former saw his shot
saved by Matt Duke while the latter struck a post. No doubt struggling a
little with nerves, Bradford did falter, too. Nathan Doyle and Gary Jones scored
Bradford's first two penalties while Alan Connell converted the fourth.
But either side of that kick, Stephen Darby and Ritchie Jones saw weak
shots saved, meaning that the shoot-out would have gone to sudden death
had Vermaelen beaten Duke with Arsenal's fifth.
The Arsenal captain could only
strike a firm shot against the post, however, meaning that in the week
they face expulsion from the FA Cup for fielding an ineligible player,
Bradford are a two-legged semifinal away from a day at Wembley.
Ambitious: Thompson kicks the ball over his head
Cheer up, Arsene: Wenger looked frustrated during the match
Wenger was a little short of patience
when it was put to him that this was rather embarrassing. He had, after
all, fielded something approaching his strongest team.
It is only embarrassing if you do
not try, was the gist of his message. This setback, though, belongs on a
different scale to recent disappointments against teams like Swansea.
This was Bradford of League Two and if Wenger does not feel genuinely uncomfortable this morning then he should.
Tussle: Santi Cazorla (right) and Nathan Doyle vie for possession
Warm enough Mikel Arteta (left) and the rest of Arsenal's substitutes look freezing on the bench
Bradford manager Phil Parkinson
summed things up well when he said: 'It's a shame the headlines will be
about the penalties because I think we deserved to win in normal time.
We were only two or three minutes away from beating their best team.'
In truth, a Bradford win looked to be
on the cards from the moment Thompson crashed Parkinson's team into the
lead after 16 minutes.
Vermaelen obstructed the dangerous
Nahki Wells by the right corner flag to concede a free-kick and when
Gary Jones' cross was flicked on to the far post, Thompson volleyed home
with his left instep.
Entering the fray: Arsene Wenger walks onto the pitch before the match
Arsenal tried to respond but Francis Coquelin struck a post from 18 yards and Gervinho failed to make contact from a yard out.
In the second half, Arsenal improved.
Bradford goalkeeper Duke only had to work sporadically, though, and the
surprise was not that Arsenal's equaliser came so late but that it came
They really had been that
unconvincing. Once they had their lifeline, Wenger's team were somewhat
better. They should have scored in extra time as Bradford tired but Jack
Wilshere dallied when clean through and Cazorla hit the bar.
This Arsenal team has no killer
instinct. In fact it has little or no instinct at all. Pretty soon, it
may have no season left, either.
All smiles: Bradford manager Phil Parkinson was delighted with the victory
IT'S NOT THE FIRST TIME…
Walsall 2 Arsenal 0, 1933
Arsenal were regarded as the best team in Europe, Walsall were in the Third Division South when they met in the third round of the FA Cup, but produced what Sportsmail then called 'the sensation of the century'.
Swindon 3 Arsenal 1, 1969
Having lost to Leeds in the League Cup final the year before, Arsenal wanted to atone. Instead, Third Division Swindon stunned a muddy Wembley, Don Rogers netting twice in extra-time.
York City 1 Arsenal 0, 1985
Third Division York put the Gunners out in the fourth round of the FA Cup with a late Keith Houchen penalty.
Wrexham 2 Arsenal 1, 1992
The champions were hot favourites for a thirdround FA Cup tie but captain Mickey Thomas hit a stunning late free-kick leveller and Steve Watkin won it for Wrexham.
PS And the Bantams pull their weight in penalty shootouts…
Bradford have now been successful in their last nine spotkick deciders.
October 6 2009 3-2 Notts County
November 10 2009 5-4 Port Vale
August 30 2011 3-1 Sheffield Wed
October 4 2011 4-3 Huddersfield
November 8 2011 6-5 Sheffield Utd
October 9 2012 3-2 Hartlepool
October 30 2012 4-2 Wigan
November 13 2012 4-2 Northampton
December 112012 3-2 Arsenal