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Can Bantams beat Arsenal? Of course they can
John Hendrie column: City must play with their heads not their hearts when Arsenal come to Valley Parade next week – and believe they can do it.
It’s going to be such a special occasion for everyone – not just the players but the coaching staff, the board and the supporters. It’s one to cherish.
Everybody was crying out for a big tie because the draws in the previous Capital One Cup rounds have been rubbish. Finally City have got their reward and it’s long overdue.
Is it winnable? Yes, of course it is.
If they played 100 times, you’d expect Arsenal to win at least 90 of them. But strange things do happen in football.
When you cross that white line, it’s your 11 against theirs.
If you go out there thinking we’ve got no chance then forget it. Mentally you can talk yourself out of the game before a ball is kicked.
You have to approach it feeling you can win. That should be the same week in, week out.
Who’d have thought Celtic would beat Barcelona the other week?
Their game-plan was to defend very deep and narrow and get Barcelona on the set-pieces. I tell you what, it worked a treat.
Maybe City will have to go down the same route and use the likes of James Hanson at set-pieces because Gary Jones’s delivery is decent.
I’m sure Arsenal will have had them watched several times and one of the first things they’ll be aware of is Hanson at the back post. I’m sure the likes of Mertesacker, if he’s playing, will be told to pick him up.
If you play too cavalier against Arsenal, they are lightning quick on the counter and will rip you apart.
City will need to stay disciplined – as they have done in other cup games at Watford and Wigan – and they have the players to do that. Jones and Doyle and the more experienced ones have a big part to play.
For a lot of them, this will be the biggest game in their career. But instead of feeling petrified, go out there like you’re seven foot tall and embrace the wonderful opportunity.
Play with your head not your heart and don’t be afraid. Don’t leave anything behind in the dressing room.
Make no mistake about it, Arsenal will be taking this seriously.Arsene Wenger is still to win a cup since Arsenal moved to the Emirates. He’ll feel this is his best chance with some of the big boys out.
You look round the new stadium and see all the years they’ve won stuff and there’s nothing since 2005.
Their biggest disappointment was losing the final to Birmingham two years ago because they must have thought their name was on it.
I think Arsene will be making this competition one of his priorities just to win some silverware. He’ll want the monkey off his back.
So that makes it an even taller order for City.
But as long as the supporters see the side giving it their all, there will be no complaints. The crowd will be right behind them.
I’ve played in teams when we’ve just dug in there, knowing we won’t get many chances. But if you just take one, you know there’s a chance to go on and win the game.
I remember at Barnsley when we knocked out Man United in the FA Cup. We’d been turned over 7-0 at Old Trafford in the league and four weeks later we got drawn back there.
Nobody gave us a prayer but we got them back to Barnsley in the replay and won 3-2. Man U won the treble the following year.
City are in the quarter-finals on merit. They have just as much right to be there as Arsenal.
It’s a great game for the players and they shouldn’t have any demons in their head or negative thoughts.
Do the normal preparations as you would for any game and get focused on the job ahead – and enjoy it.
* John Hendrie, who is a consultant for LawBlacks.com, was talking to Simon Parker