Bradford had to wait until penalties, but they deservedly beat a full strength Arsenal on penalties 3-2, after a 1-1 draw. Arsenal threw away their only chance of silverware this season. Arsene Wenger named his full team; perhaps in a confidence booster, or to ensure progress. None of the above happened, though.
Thomas Vermaelen was uncomfortable throughout, as he always is against two strikers, and after a long punt from Matt Duke, Nahki Wells nutmegged the Arsenal "captain", and was blocked off. From the ensuing free kick, Bacary Sagna determined that Arsenal's wage offer was too low, so he shouldn't bother marking the farpost, and Thompson volleyed home. Arsenal didn't respond either, apparently considering moving in a quick direction and making quick passes to be beneath them. Bradford weren't all too troubled in the first half, aside from when Francis Coquelin, the lone bright spark in an Arsenal shirt, drove through and had his left footed shot hit off the post. Santi Cazorla, who was utterly anonymous, fired wide from 25 yards. Gervinho should've definitely leveled up the score in the 42nd minute, after Lukas Podolski slipped in Kieran Gibbs. Gibbs cross was perfect, along the ground; Gervinho inexplicably missed. Actually, it's not inexplicable, because Gervinho has done that all-season, and the fact that he's playing upfront is a goddamn head-scratcher.
Bradford, though, could've gone 2-0 up; Nakhi Wells, who's about 5'7 and 150 pounds, outmuscled Thomas Vermaelen, but dragged his shot wide. Vermaelen, to his captaincy credit, didn't look bothered at that event. Nor did the rest of the Arsenal team; they didn't win 50-50s, and, to be honest, they didn't look concerned that this is Arsenal's only realistic chance of winning a trophy. At half time, if Arsene Wenger hadn't given them an earful asking if they actually want to win anything, I'll be very surprised.
Arsene Wenger made a sub before the 60th minute, bringing on Marouane Chamakh on for Francis Coquelin, and then later brought on Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Ramsey and the utterly anonymous Lukas Podolski. Not much changed, though; Vermaelen was still utter piss, and Arsenal still created very little. They had two shots on target, from Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wilshere, but both were comfortably saved by Matt Duke. It took 70 minutes for Arsenal's first shot on target; the fourth time this has happened this season. It's not particularly surprising; between Ramsey and Gervinho, Arsenal were starting two out of the three first attacking players who cannot finish a chance. Yet the continual lack of creativity is extremely worrying. Arsenal simply cannot score goals anymore; not like they used to. Even worse, what little confidence that might've returned from last week will drain away. And, to conclude, every single Arsenal player should be ashamed.
Yet, the plucky away team (h/t @aclockendRED) grabbed an equalizer! After a corner was cleared, Cazorla crossed for Vermaelen, who headed home from 2 yards in the 86th minute. Arsenal could've won it; Cazorla had two shots well saved by Duke, with Gervinho failing to score the follow up (of course). To extra time, and 120 minutes for players who apparently dropped points against Swansea because they were "tired".
Arsenal began to dominate in extra time, mostly down to the excellence of Tomas Rosicky, who is Arsenal's best player. The best chance came when Jack Wilshere played a glorious one-two with Chamakh, and skipped past a challenge. He didn't shoot, though, because the chance came to his right foot. He should work on that. Then Kieran Gibbs whacked a shot that Duke parried for a corner. 13 minutes into extra time, Gibbs headed over from a decent cross from Sagna (!). Yet, the first half of extra time ended without a goal.
Marouane Chamakh headed just wide from Cazorla's corner. Cazorla then hit the crossbar from 25 yards. The game remained at 1-1. The author thought about how Theo Walcott leaving will mean more Gervinho; author then punched bed. Arsenal had a good chance, but that required Marouane Chamakh playing a decent through ball. So, yeah, that didn't happen. 5 minutes left. Nothing. Bradford got a throw in with a minute left. The whistle went; but for an Arsenal free kick. 1 added minute. Arsenal free kick: Bradford clear. Cazorla's shot is deflected; Duke saves it from going out for a corner. Full time. 1-1. Penalties.
Doyle took. Szczesny got a hand, but it went in. 1-0.
Cazorla for Arsenal. Saved by Duke. Rubbish pen.
Garry Jones. Brilliant into the top right corner, despite Szczesny going the right way. 2-0.
Chamakh for Arsenal. What do you think happens? Yep. Lackadaisical run up, hits the post.
Darby for Bradford. Low, to the right, easy save for Szczesny. 2-0.
Wilshere for Arsenal. He wasn't going to miss. 2-1.
Alan Connell, a Gooner. Top left corner, no chance even if Szczesny goes right way. 3-1.
Oxlade-Chamberlain. Must score. He does, low into the bottom left. Great pen. 3-2.
Bradford can win if they score. Szczesny has to save.
Richie Jones. SZCZESNY SAVES! Crap pen, but Szcz goes the right way. 3-2.
Vermaelen to take. Has to score. He hits the post. Great job, "Captain". Useless.
Bradford through. Deservedly. Arsenal. Well.
They let the manager down, the fans down, and themselves down. They didn't look bothered; they looked as if they couldn't give a shit that this was their lone chance at silverware. If Gervinho never plays again for Arsenal and Thomas Vermaelen is stripped of the captaincy, they can have no complaints. Vermaelen may have scored, but his performance was still a disgrace. His crapness and lack of effort led by example. Laurent Koscielny cannot return quicker. As for Gervinho; it's mind-blowing how Andrei Arshavin doesn't play ahead of him. Arshavin can actually do things with a football, like pass, and create chances, and shoot. Gervinho can do none of the above. He can't even dribble well. Or cross well. Arshavin's not the greatest dribbler anymore, but he can damn well cross.
Still, at least we played the full team for a confidence booster! At least when we lose against the Reading, we can use tiredness as an excuse. Robin van Persie must have laughed at that. His statement is looking more and more like the truth.
You can't blame Wenger for the performance. This was a full strength Arsenal against League Two Bradford. This result is on the players. Each one of them deserves to be dropped for Reading, aside from Szczesny, Mertesacker, Wilshere and Rosicky.