Bradford City 1 Arsenal 1 aet. (Bradford win 3-2 on penalties)

This had all the hallmarks of a great cup upset, and that was what eventually prevailed. Past results have suggested that Arsenal have always found the challenge of cup nights away from home, and in the deep of winter, at a northern venue insurmountable. Sadly this was to prove no different. When Garry Thompson volleyed the home side in front after 16 minutes, the writing was on the wall for the Gunners. Not that there wasn’t any fight from Arsene Wenger’s men. Thomas Vermaelen eventually levelled two minutes from normal time, and after a goalless extra time period, the tie went to penalties. The Gunners’ skipper missed the crucial kick that consigned his team to a shock loss, and that will not help to lift the mood of doom and gloom currently swirling over the Emirates.

Having scored six then seven goals in their previous two ties of the Capital One Cup, an eight proved to be something of a fantasy, just like the Boardroom mutterings, that Arsenal don’t have to win trophies to engage their global fanbase?? Arsenal fans will strongly disagree with that controversial notion, and in light of Wenger’s inability to deliver silverware for seven years, some will again call for a change of managerial direction. That is where we must be careful, and look at Arsenal’s 34 shots against Bradford, of which only six were on target. That alongside the 71 % possession against the League 2 side are statistics that Wenger will have to deal with. His players are just not performing. Once again however when he called the players to back him, apart from Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, their collective minds seemed to be elsewhere.

It is never easy to go out on penalties, but prior to that, the shocking miss from Gervinho in particular has come to symbolise the lack of quality when quality is needed. You always get what you pay for, and money bags cash rich Premiership rivals have gladly taken away Wenger’s best players for many a season now. Wenger will find it hard to argue against the fact that Arsenal have become a selling club, who if they happen to win a trophy along the way of running a business, then all well and good. The fans however will always glance at the scoreline and not the bottom line, and Board must accept that.

Regulars to the Emirates Stadium have long grown frustrated at the fare on offer, and even the fortuitous circumstances of Arsenal’s win over West Bromwich Albion last Saturday cannot mask over the long term malaise that Wenger insists isn’t there. Steve Bould has provided a much needed boost to the Gunners first team, but the players are too fragile to accept his robust form of criticism, when in his day it was the norm. Bould has a point, and unlike his charges, many trophies under Wenger to boot. The players could do worse then getting off their X-Box and Twitter accounts and embrace the winning mentality that Bould brings. Wenger will have to see suit too. He said,

” What is disappointing is, basically over an hour ( we played with ) with five strikers, 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.”

Wenger has always insisted that he would only strengthen the team if the incoming players would improve it. Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski have definitely done that. But why should they hang around when silverware is on offer elsewhere? On the evidence of this shock cup exit, Wenger will have many possible signings to ponder over, who are up for the fight.