With his side underperforming this year and his 16-year reign already in question, Wenger’s best hope of silverware for the first time in seven years was the second tier cup competition.

But still Wenger defended his team, who had been knocked out of the competition by a fourth-tier team for the first time, to the hills.

“I cannot fault the effort of my team,” he said after Santi Cazorla’s penalty was saved and Marouane Chamakh and Thomas Vermaelen hit the post in the shoot-out.

“It was a difficult and slippery pitch that we had to contend with. We gave a lot to this game.”

A slippery pitch?

Bradford keeper Matt Duke looked comfortable once the second period of extra time had passed without a goal, the league two promotion play-off contenders absorbing everything their gold-plated and near full-strength opponents could throw at them. He’d been here before.

This would be their ninth shoot-out in a row that they would win, this time 3-2.

Bradford deserved their lead after 16 minutes through a quality Garry Thompson finish.

It took until the 88th minute for Vermaelen to head in from close range for the equaliser.

Bradford manager Phil Parkinson was proud that his side had matched the Premier League giants for 120 minutes before winning from the spot again.

“It’s a great night for the club. We said before the game that we wanted to show a wide audience that we are a good side,” he said.

City haven’t been beaten in the FA Cup either, but are awaiting the result of an appeal after they were expelled for fielding an ineligible player in the second round.

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