Arsenal vs. Bradford City: Score, Highlights and Grades
Well, that wasn't expected.
Arsene Wenger surprisingly put out a full Arsenal squad against Bradford City on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Capital One Cup, but the Gunners were still eliminated 1(3)-1(2) in penalties.
Bradford City got the scoring started in the 16th minute.
After Thomas Vermaelen gave up a free kick in the corner following an embarrassing nut-meg, the Bantams whipped in a cross that was headed to the far post by Will Atkinson. From there, Garry Thompson screamed an impressive volley right past Wojciech Szczesny.
It was bad of Vermaelen to give the free kick and even worse defending in the box from Arsenal, but you can't take anything away from Thompson's clinical finish.
From there, the Gunners constantly threatened to find the equalizer.
In the 39th minute, Francis Coquelin weaved through multiple Bantams and smashed a shot that skipped across the ground dangerously. Unfortunately for Arsenal, it bounced just off the right post.
Just three minutes later, Arsenal had its best chance.
Well, best chance if it wasn't Gervinho at the end of a beautiful buildup. Since words can't truly describe the Ivorian's point-blank miss, here's a look:
The best part might just be the defender shielding his eyes at the end. I know I did the same.
Arsenal created several more opportunities in the final 45 minutes, most of which were defended well by Bradford, but Vermaelen got his revenge in the 88th minute.
Santi Cazorla, who was so good all match long, drove in a cross after a deflected corner, and Vermaelen found a way to head it inside the far post to keep Arsenal's Cup chances alive.
Cazorla added a few more dangerous shots from outside the box, but nothing found the back of the net in the next 30 minutes, and we headed to the dreaded penalty kicks.
In penalties, Nathan Doyle, Gary Jones and Alan Connell scored for Bradford while Cazorla and Chamakh missed for Arsenal. With a chance to tie things, Vermaelen continued his up-and-down night by hitting the post to seal it for the Bantams.
Garry Thompson, Bradford City: A-
He scored the Bantams' only goal and did it in impressive fashion. He was taken off in the 72nd minute, but there wasn't much else he could have done while on the pitch, especially since Bradford went defensive while up a goal.
Matt Duke, Bradford City: B+
Duke gave up a goal and didn't do a great job on the cross that set up Gervinho's stinky (lack of) finish, but he's the reason Bradford made it to extra time.
As Arsenal's attack heated up and the Gunners actually started getting some shots on target, Duke had to make some terrific saves, including two in a row on Cazorla missiles in the 94th minute.
Gervinho, Arsenal: F
As if the miss of the season wasn't enough, the enigmatic striker decided to toss in several dispossessions, more missed shots and multiple head-scratching decisions in the final third.
Gervinho did manage to make a few threatening runs down the sideline in the second half, but nothing (unsurprisingly) ever came from them.
Aaron Ramsey, who played as though he was allergic to the ball and was taken off in the 69th minute, made a good case for being listed here as well.
What grade would you give Cazorla?
Santi Cazorla: A
Might as well hit both sides of the spectrum here for the Gunners. Cazorla was as good as Gervinho was bad, and that's saying a lot.
The 27-year-old Spaniard was in the middle of every Arsenal attack. He made runs right through the defense, picked out his teammates well, including the wonderful assist on Vermaelen's goal, and looked dangerous with several long-range blasts on target.
It looked easy out there for Cazorla, up until he missed Arsenal's first penalty. Still, you can't put too much blame on him after an otherwise splendid match.
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