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Wenger: Arsenal were not embarrassed

Manager defends players' work-rate

By | 12th December 2012
arsene wenger

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has rubbished suggestions that his players were embarrassed by League Two side Bradford City after the Gunners crashed out of the League Cup on penalties.

Going into the match, Arsenal were very much expected to win an easy fixture and progress to the semifinals of a competition which they could then go on to win in February.

The club’s supporters were eagerly looking forward to the accomplishment of that feat but a spirited Bradford side brought a shocking halt to those dreams by scoring early in the match from a free-kick.

While captain Thomas Vermaelen scored a late header to send the match to extra time, the Gunners failed to find the net and were forced to compete on Bradford’s competitive advantage: a penalty shoot-out.

Three Arsenal players, including Vermaelen, missed their spot-kicks, allowing Bradford to claim a memorable 3-2 win on penalties and move on to the semis at the expense of the North London outfit.

In his post-match press conference, Wenger admitted that he was disappointed with Arsenal’s lack of creativity but argued that the players gave their best and had no reason to feel embarrassed.

“You feel embarrassed when you don’t give everything. I feel the team did fight and will be more disappointed and frustrated,” Wenger told Arsenal’s official website following the match.

The Frenchman added: “I feel we gave a lot. It’s difficult to make the game the whole time. We played with a very offensive team. What is disappointing is [we played] basically over an hour with five strikers basically, and couldn’t score.

“We created a lot of different situations. You have to say they defended very well. It’s difficult to play this kind of game. I know people will say ‘it’s League Two’, but a cup game is a cup game.

“In football you always have a chance if you give everything. They did that tonight and we put ourselves in a difficult situation by being 1-0 down.”

In the past, Wenger has been critical of opponents who play very defensive against Arsenal but the manager had the humility to acknowledge Bradford’s resilience and discipline.

He explained: “It’s disappointing, but congratulations to Bradford. They defended well [and] started stronger than us. In the second half of extra time it was all us but we couldn’t convert our chances. They defended very well.

“They defended very well in their own half. The pitch was a bit slippery to get in behind. They defended very deep and played the ball forward. There was no space, no room.”

Lastly, when asked how Arsenal’s demoralized squad will approach the remainder of the season, Wenger stated that there is no option but to take it one game at a time.

“Where it leaves our season is to focus on the next game. Sport is about that. Win the next game [and] focus on the next game,” he concluded.

The Gunners now have five days off before they return to Premier League action against Reading next Monday night.

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