Arsenal’s dramatic run in the league cup came to a dramatic end in a penalty shoot-out as Thomas Vermaelen missed the final spot-kick on Tuesday night.
The Belgian had played a vital role in all decisive moments – both the good and bad – tonight, but he fluffed his lines when it mattered the most.
Apart from the omission of Mikel Arteta, Arsene Wenger fielded his strongest first-team available and in the opening minutes, Vermaelen blatantly blocked his opponent to give away a cheap free-kick from which Bradford City took an emphatic 1-0 lead after the Gunners failed to clear their lines.
But Arsenal’s captain atoned for his mistakes in the dying 87th minute as he headed home an equalizer after Arsenal had knocked and knocked a solid Bradford door without finding an answer.
Momentum then belonged to Wenger’s men as they bossed extra-time. And indeed only a mixture of tame finishing, good defending and tough luck denied the visitors from a winner as Santi Cazorla in particular saw an effort well saved by the goalkeeper and another one met by the crossbar.
Into the penalty shoot-out, the Spaniard’s shooting found no success again as Arsenal’s first penalty-kick was saved. Bradford however, had netted all two of their opening kicks and when Marouane Chamakh stepped up to reduce the deficit, he too failed from 12 yards out.
The Bantams then missed their third kick but Jack Wilshere encouragingly scored for Arsenal to make it 2-1. And after the hosts netted their next spot-kick, Oxlade-Chamberlain calmly made it 3-2 ahead of the 5th and last round of penalties. Some hope restored for Arsenal, and indeed another miss from Bradford meant that Thomas Vermaelen had the opportunity to level the shoot-out and send it into sudden death.
But his shot which did beat the goalkeeper could only meet the post as Arsenal were ousted from the competition, losing 3-2 on penalties.