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The Midweek Moan: You’re Gunner get stuffed if you play about with penalties

Jack Wilshire lies on the pitch after Arsenal got knocked out of the FA Cup by Bradford. Photo: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Jack Wilshire lies on the pitch after Arsenal got knocked out of the FA Cup by Bradford. Photo: Mike Egerton/EMPICS

Thursday, December 13, 2012
4:09 PM

Welcome to London24’s weekly column taking a frustrated look at the world of sport and having a good old rant to get it off our chests. This week, Arsenal’s penalty shootout cup exit embarassment...

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"It’s all very well seeing Zinedine Zidane execute a cheeky chip in a World Cup final, but for every outrageously exquisite dink from a master, comes countless other fluffed, mishit and downright dreadful clangers"

James Cunliffe on penalty kicks

Once upon a time, thousands of years ago, a clever caveman invented the wheel.

It works just as well now as it did when it was taken for a first roll because, like football, simple ideas endure.

The premise of the beautiful game is basic – put the ball in the net, do it more times that your opposition and you win.

The penalty kick is a great and straightforward way to do the former, but there are always those that want to complicate things.

The Germans, traditionally, as England fans know to their detriment, are marvellous exponents of this 12-yard pressure situation. Just look back at the videos of the times they’ve knocked the Three Lions out of international tournaments.

Notice most are hit with pace and accuracy in the few places a goalkeeper is unlikely to reach. Traditional German efficiency, if you will. The keeper should not stand a chance.

Deviate from that and players run the risk of the crucial or embarrassing miss – just ask Stuart Pearce and Gareth Southgate.

It’s all very well seeing Zinedine Zidane execute a cheeky chip in a World Cup final, but for every outrageously exquisite dink from a master, comes countless other fluffed, mishit and downright dreadful clangers.

And for every Bradford City, you have an Arsenal.

Now it’s not that a spot-kick shootout saw the Gunners dumped out of the Capital One Cup at the quarter final stage to a League Two side. Cup shocks happen and it was not the first time for Arsenal, but it’s more the manner in which they brought about their demise from the penalty mark.

Marouane Chamakh and Thomas Vermaelen hit the post, which can happen to anyone, but it was their tepid side-footed efforts that most infuriate, while Santi Cazorla virtually chipped the ball into the arms of City stopper Matt Duke.

Even Jack Wilshere, who scored, opted for the maddening checked-stride run-up which has so often seen penalty takers come a cropper. It was only that Duke guessed wrong that it went in.

The only Gunner to have come out of that shootout with any credit was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Surprise, surprise he is English and, while that could bode well for Rio 2014 and beyond, the winger did away with flair, flamboyance and any penchant for brinkmanship by doing the only thing that matters on such occasions – hitting the net.

He hit it hard, he hit it on the ground and though Duke guessed right, low and behold, he scored.

It’s not vorsprung durch technik, it’s not reinventing the wheel – it’s just simple football.

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