Arsene Wenger: Losing to League Two side Bradford is not an embarrassment
Arsenal field near full-strength team and 'give absolutely everything' but still crash out on penalties to Bradford
The Coral Windows Stadium
Wednesday 12 December 2012
Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, may have added to the frustration being felt by the club's supporters following the Gunners' Capital One Cup quarter-final defeat 3-2 on penalties at League Two Bradford City.
"I cannot fault the players' effort, they gave absolutely everything over 120 minutes," said Wenger, whose side did not have a shot on target until the 68th minute and needed an equaliser two minutes from time draw 1-1 and take the game into extra time.
"We created a lot of situations, a lot of opportunities, we just didn't convert our chances. You have to congratulate and give credit to Bradford, they defended very well. It was a typical English Cup game on a difficult but playable pitch, they started better than us and then they defended very well in their own half.
"They dropped deep and there was no room. We played [selected] a very offensive team, but you have to say [Bradford] defended very well. I feel the team did fight. You feel embarrassed when you don't give everything. I feel they will be more frustrated and disappointed [than embarrassed].
"How do we recover? We focus on our next game and try to win that. Sport is about that."
The Bradford manager, Phil Parkinson, paid particular tribute to his goalkeeper Matt Duke, who made a number of key saves in the extra half hour before saving Santi Cazorla's penalty during the shoot-out. The 35-year-old recovered from testicular cancer while at Hull City before resuming his career at Bradford.
"Matt pulled off some really crucial saves on difficult night for goalkeepers, but he'd be the first to praise the protection he received from the players in front of him," said Parkinson, , who saw Garry Thompson put his side ahead in the first half before Thomas Vermaelen's 88th-minute header triggered an extra half-hour.
"Our discipline was first class and some of our football was terrific. Arsenal were always going to dominate added time but we stuck at our task and have to be given credit for that. I don't think the enormity of what they've achieved has quite sunk in with the players yet. The club hasn't had much to celebrate over the last 10 years and this is great for both the club and the city."
Parkinson admitted he had been surprised by Wenger's strong selection for the game, but suggested it might have played into City's hands. "It kind of put more pressure on them, putting all his cards on to the table at the start. I said to my players; Just think what an achievement it would be, to beat a full-strength Arsenal."
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