Arsene Wenger has refused to blame his players after the penalty defeat to League Two side Bradford City, in the quarter final of the Capital One Cup.
"It's disappointing, but congratulations to Bradford. They defended well [and] started stronger than us. In the second half of extra-time it was all us but we couldn't convert our chances. They defended very well," the Frenchman told his club's Web site, adding, "It was a typical English cup game and Bradford got on top of us in the end."
The final score, after extra time, was 1-1, with Garry Thompson's first half goal cancelled out by an 88th minute header from Belgian centre back Thomas Vermaelen. Tragically for the Gunners, Vermaelen was one of those who missed his spot kick (the others were Spanish playmaker Santi Cazorla and Moroccan striker Marouane Chamakh). Conversions from Nathan Doyle, Gary Jones and Alan Connell were enough to give Phil Parkinson's side a 10th win in 26 meetings against the Emirates club.
More importantly, the loss prolongs the north London club's wait for a football trophy; the last time Wenger won anything was the 2005 FA Cup. And the way the league season is progressing so far - Arsenal are 15 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United - it is likely the wait will stretch to eight years. European competition is unlikely to change that either, with Arsenal likely to be drawn against former champions Bayern Munich, Barcelona or Borussia Dortmund in the first knock-out round of the Champions League.
Wenger will reportedly have £35m (possibly more) to spend on January transfers and the veteran manager, despite what he may believe personally, must recruit to have any chance of closing the gap, both in terms of points and quality. The Gunners have already been linked to Crystal palace youngster Wilfried Zaha, Mohamed Diame, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and former striker Thierry Henry, among others.
Meanwhile, for now, Wenger must pick his troops up, dust them off and prepare for the weekend's trip to the Madejski Stadium, to play relegation-threatened Reading. The Royals are 19th in the league, with only nine points so far and Arsenal will hope for an easy three points.