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Alan Kennedy Round 5 blog

13 December 2012

Four-time League Cup winner Alan Kennedy gives his thoughts on Round 5

Bradford City's famous victory over a full strength Arsenal this week was a throwback to the good old days of unexpected cup upsets, and Phil Parkinson's men were absolutely fantastic. 

I played at Valley Parade in the 1980/81 League Cup second round and they beat a very strong Liverpool side 1-0 that night, so I know first-hand what an intimidating place it can be to visit if you're the giant they're trying to slay. 

The atmosphere was raucous and we found it tough going against a spirited Bradford side, but thankfully for us there was a second leg to put things right. We won that 4-0 and went on to win the competition, beating West Ham United in the final after a replay. 

Seeing the joyous scenes at the final whistle was wonderful on Tuesday night, but the Bradford City players had earned it. They ran and ran and ran and ran, and thanks also to their skill and organisation, they achieved a result none of them would have expected. As a player you can feel confident ahead of any match but sometimes the greater class of the opposition tells. Here, the Bantams more than matched Arsenal throughout and I particularly enjoyed the lack of fear they showed. 

Penalty shoot-outs, which I have plenty of experience in, really are in the lap of the Gods, but I do think mental strength helps you prevail. The Bantams players did themselves proud in this regard, and the rest as they say, is now history. 

It's left Arsenal red-faced and rightly so. The gulf in wages between the players is gargantuan, and the two clubs just aren't on the same planet when it comes to the resources needed to build their respective squads. It's an incredible story, and another boost for what's been a brilliant Capital One Cup season. 

Can Bradford City go all the way to Wembley? I wouldn't put it past them. They've shown they can handle Premier League opposition at home or away, so you have to respect their chances no matter who they are paired with in the semi-finals. 

Joining them in the last four is Aston Villa and Swansea City, who will both be quietly fancying their chances of winning the competition now. 

I watched the Swans dispose of Liverpool at Anfield in Round 4 and they were superb. I love their style of football. 

I played against the Welshmen several times when they had their previous spell in the top flight of English football in the early 80s, so it's lovely to see them flying again.
 
In those days they played at Vetch Field, which I must admit wasn't one of Liverpool's favourite away trips. The pitch was always muddy, it never seemed to stop raining and backed by a feverish home crowd they never made life easy for us. We had legends such as John Toshack, Tommy Smith and Ian Callaghan go and play for Swansea though, so the bond we forged was strong. 

I've watched Villa several times this season and they seemed to lack creativity but as we see so often in knock-out cup ties, form went out of the window this week as they smashed four past Norwich City. 

It's about time Paul Lambert's men began to click, so this victory might just kick start their season. In Christian Benteke they have a proper handful of a centre forward. Big, unpredictable and a nightmare for defenders to mark, the Belgian could be their secret weapon in the semis. 

Will it be Leeds United or Chelsea who complete the line-up? The Blues will be strong favourites of course, but this won't be an easy tie for them. 

I played in the 1981 World Club Cup in Japan, and it was a very tiring trip. Bob Paisley wasn't at all happy about us travelling that far midway through the season, and it did disrupt our league form afterwards for a while. 

Chelsea will be giving it their best shot to beat Corinthians to the world crown, but I do fear they will feel a bit jet lagged for the trip to Elland Road. It's definitely good news for Neil Warnock and his men that they are out in Asia at the moment.
 
Leeds United has a great name in football and this is a long-awaited chance for them to make a positive impression on the big stage once more. 

What do they need to do to progress? A bit of the Bradford factor won't do them any harm, that's for sure.

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