Arsene Wenger has warned his squad that they face a tough test against Bradford City with Phil Parkinson’s side on a good run in League Two.
The Gunners are set to field a strong line-up in this evening’s League Cup quarter-final clash at Valley Parade with the boss particularly wary of the game going to penalties after learning the Bantams have won eight consecutive cup shootouts in just three years.
“We have to win the game in normal time. They have gained confidence in these types of competitions and confidence plays a big part in that. Hopefully we won’t need penalties,” Wenger said.
“Bradford are a force in their league, they are a team who play very good football and very efficient as well. We take them very seriously. They are very efficient at set pieces, so we will have to be very strong on that.”
Wenger knows all too well what it’s like to struggle against Bradford having failed to beat them in his previous two visits in the Premier League 12 years ago.
“Valley Parade was a difficult place to go to when we played there in the Premier League,” he continued.
“It is a passionate place with a very special atmosphere as well. That’s what you will get again in this match.
“I believe when you go to places like this, you need to tell your players that it will be as difficult as a Premier League game, and it will be.
“Therefore you want to prepare yourself. If you don’t do your mental work before the game, you have no chance and that is where our job lies.”
After going 4-0 down at Reading only to win 7-5 Arsenal fans are all too aware that anything can happen in this competition…and that includes being taken to 120 minutes and penalties by comparative minnows.
While Bradford certainly have an enviable record from 12-yards, our own performance hasn’t been too shabby since an horrific six months in the 1999/2000 season when we lost in the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup final thanks to missed spot kicks.
Arsenal penalty record under Arsene Wenger
Beat Port Vale FA Cup 97/98
Beat West Ham FA Cup 97/98
Lost Middlesbrough League Cup 99/00
Lost Leicester FA Cup 99/00
Lost Galatasaray UEFA Cup 99/00
Beat Rotherham League Cup 03/04
Beat Sheffield United FA Cup 04/05
Beat Man Utd FA Cup Final 04/05
Beat Doncaster League Cup 05/06
Beat Roma Champions League 08/09
(Cheers to the memory of @LittleDutchVA for verifying penalty stats)