Big match preview: Only by turning it into a scrap can Bantams hope to topple Arsenal, says Jewell (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Big match preview: Only by turning it into a scrap can Bantams hope to topple Arsenal, says Jewell
Play the game not the occasion – that is the advice from the last Bantams boss to beat Arsenal.
Goals from the two Deans – Windass and Saunders – claimed the Gunners’ scalp on that memorable afternoon in February 2000.
Paul Jewell masterminded one of the most celebrated victories in that Great Escape year when City defied all the odds to survive in the top flight. And he will be back at Valley Parade tomorrow to see if the present-day side can pull off an upset that would trump them all.
Jewell is thrilled to witness his old haunt packed to the rafters again after such a long wait. And he is praying that the team deliver a performance to make the army of fans proud.
He said: “Bradford have had some really good results this season, they’ve gone to Wigan and Watford and won, which is terrific, and they are also going strong in the league.
“This is a one off game, it’s a quarter-final. They have got the chance to get to the semi-finals of a major cup competition. That’s a fantastic opportunity for a team in their division.
If it’s a nice football match, they are going to lose. Let’s be straight about thatPaul Jewell
“Some of those lads might never get the chance to play against Arsenal again, so they’ve got to make the most of it.
“It’s a great night for everyone – the players, the staff, the chairmen and the supporters. But they must not let the occasion get the better of them.
“There will be a fantastic atmosphere so use the euphoria and energy of the game to drive you on.”
Jewell believes the City fans will have a key role – as well as the facilities. Valley Parade may be the best stadium in League Two but it lags well behind the venues Arsenal are used to.
“Valley Parade won’t have seen anything like it since that season but it can be a real intimidating place and it will have to be.
“Unless things have changed dramatically, the visiting dressing room will still be too small. I remember David Ginola moaning because there was nowhere to plug in his hair dryer!
“The Arsenal players won’t have seen the likes of it before, and that sort of thing could get into their heads.
“Bradford have got to make it really tough for them and try everything to take them out the comfort zone.
“If it’s a nice football match, they are going to lose. Let’s be straight about that.
“Bradford need to turn it into a fight, a fair fight but a real scrap. It’s a cup tie so play it like one.
“When we were in the Premier League we treated every game against the big sides as a cup final. They have to be high-tempo games and the crowd has got a big part to play.
“The fans have to be aggressive in their support. Not abusive but doing all they can to energise the Bradford players when they get the ball.
“As a manager, you just want the team focused and ready to give everything they’ve got. Do that and the result will look after itself.
“If Arsenal do exactly the same, then they will win. But if one or two of their lads don’t fancy it, maybe because of the cold weather or the crowd, then who knows?
“All these factors Bradford have got to use to their advantage. They’ve got to strain every little sinew.
“I’ve been going back to Bradford the last few years and there’s always been this feeling of apathy.
“I’ve not got down this season yet but a lot of my friends go and they are quite excited by what they’ve seen. The poor fans haven’t had anything like that for a long time.
“My son Sam went to the Wigan game and said Bradford were terrific. Losing key players to injury was a blow but Phil (Parkinson) doesn’t seem to moan about it and the team have carried on.
“Now they have this opportunity to remember what the days were like back in the Championship and Premier League.”
Arsene Wenger is likely to make changes and give some of the Arsenal fringe players an outing. But City can still expect a few household names on display.
Jewell warned against the risk of any of the City team getting star-struck by the opposition.
“By all means show as much respect to their players before and after the game but not during those 90 minutes.
“Sometimes people can get an eye on someone’s shirt all game. They are more bothered about that than the match itself.
“It used to annoy me when smaller teams I’ve managed, including Bradford and Wigan, were trying to be too pally with the superstars.
“They were almost man marking them at the final whistle to make sure of getting a memento.
“Fair enough if you want to swap shirts, but the only thing on the players’ minds should be doing everything in their power to win that game. Worry about the rest once it’s over.
“Arsenal are a fantastic club with a fantastic manager. When you’re playing against top players, keeping concentration levels is massive.
“The opposition are brighter, quicker and sharper than you would face on any Saturday afternoon. One slip and it’s going to cost you.
“It’s a bit similar to when Arsenal went to Doncaster in the quarter-finals a few years ago. Doncaster scored in the 90th minute and thought they were through. But in all the euphoria, they lost their concentration and Arsenal went down the other end and equalised, before winning on penalties.
“I’m always reticent of saying this Arsenal side are not as good as they used to be. The team that always won 1-0 didn’t score as many goals as this one but they have conceded five against Reading in the last round, two to Tottenham recently and three against Fulham. You’ve always got a chance to score.
“The goalkeeper and back four have got to play well, that goes without saying. But there’s always a chance of nicking a goal from a set-piece.”