The miracle workers: If Celtic can beat Barcelona, Bantams can topple Arsenal (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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The miracle workers: If Celtic can beat Barcelona, Bantams can topple Arsenal
Stuart McCall may not thank me for saying it, nor the Belfast corner of our family.
But how City could do with summoning up some of that Celtic spirit when they share the same pitch as Arsenal next month.
A simple message for those who have already dismissed the Capital One Cup quarter-final as a foregone conclusion: Were you tuned in to Sky Sports 2 on Wednesday night?
Were you watching the biggest shock of the Champions League this season – and for many, many years?
And did you observe the passion and unbelievable level of commitment on display to overcome a seemingly insurmountable gulf in quality?
Phil Parkinson does his homework for every opponent to the Nth degree. No stone remains unturned, whether it’s Arsenal or Aldershot.
But maybe the rest of us need a nudge to remind us that footballing miracles do happen from time to time. And watching the drama unfold at Parkhead this week was the blueprint for that.
City have had their night to remember against Wigan – 5,000 or more noisy witnesses will back that up.
But let’s just get greedy for a second. What if the magical cup run doesn’t end there? What if Arsenal, who are susceptible to their dodgy days, fail to turn up in the right mind or spirit at Valley Parade?
Just imagine a Celtic moment being played out in front of a frenzied full house at Valley Parade.
James Hanson, in the role of Victor Wanyama, climbing over Koscelny to head the first goal.
Nahki Wells – or is it Tony Watt – latching on to Matt Duke’s goalkick to outsprint an Arsenal back four running in treacle and slide home the killer second.
And Duke, City’s Fraser Forster, standing strong against the expected Gunners armoury behind a bullet-proof backline.
According to the bookies, those modern-day soothsayers who we’re told are never wrong, a City win is more likely than Celtic’s against- all-odds triumph.
Neil Lennon’s men were a generous tens with the oddsmakers to beat Barca. By comparison, the 7/1 current best price for a City success looks positively nailed on.
They even have a Scott Brown!
Okay, maybe that is clutching at the slimmest of straws but you get the point. Where there is belief, there is hope.
And don’t underestimate the massive role that the supporters will play. Again, taking Celtic’s lead, that wall of noise can ruffle even the most experienced of Premier League heads.
The non-stop din from 55,000 at Parkhead kept Celtic going – and believing – during those mesmerising spells when they couldn’t get near the ball for five minutes.
How City will need exactly the same response to lift them in those moments when Arsenal are bound to dominate.
The cup crowd should be the largest since Valley Parade was extended to its current capacity. At last it will be fit for the sort of occasion Geoffrey Richmond dreamed of when he got carried away with his development plans.
Romantics everywhere will hope they witness something just as big; a special performance at odds with football’s natural sense of order.
Sounds too far removed from reality? You clearly didn’t see Celtic.