Bradford’s strike partners could be the key to a Capital One Cup semi-final giant killing against Aston Villa, says Bantams legend David Wetherall
Strike partners James Hanson and Nahki Wells can shoot Bradford City to Capital One Cup glory, says Bantams legend David Wetherall ahead of Tuesday evening’s first leg of the semi-final against Aston Villa.
The npower League 2 team are aiming to complete a hat-trick of Premier League scalps after already knocking out Wigan Athletic and Arsenal – both via penalty shoot-outs – to reach the competition’s semi-final for the first time ever.
And if Hanson and Wells prove as effective as they did against the Gunners over 120 minutes and penalties in the last round, Wetherall reckons that they could give five-time League Cup winners Villa just as hard a time in the two-leg semi.
“Hanson and Wells are a very dangerous combination,” said Wetherall, who after joining the Bantams from Leeds United in 1999 played in their two Premier League seasons and went on to complete almost a decade of service before retiring in 2008.
“Hanson is big and strong and a real handful up front,” added the former central defender,” while Wells has real pace and also plays a crucial role. They’re that ‘Little and Large’ strike partnership and it worked very well on the night against Arsenal.
“If it turns out to be a similar kind of game in the first leg of the semi-final, with Villa dominating possession like Arsenal did in the last round, then we can hit them on the break and hopefully get a good result to take into the second leg.”
Getting a good result from Tuesday’s night’s encounter could be key to Bradford’s hopes of progressing to the final, which – by knocking out a top flight team over two legs – would be an even bigger shock than beating Arsenal in the quarter-final.
“The odds are stacked massively against Bradford,” said Wetherall, “but with the romance of football you have to say they’ve got a chance. They’ve already shown that they’re not overawed by Premier League opposition and it will be the same again.
“The first leg is crucial, though. If they’re behind after that game it will be very difficult to turn it around away from home, but I think they will approach the first leg in the same way they did the Arsenal game – very positively.
“That quarter-final was a fantastic occasion for the club and the supporters, and the only danger is that the confidence gained from beating Arsenal has put a weight of expectation on the players to now go and reach the final.
“Villa have been having a poor time in the Premier League of late and that may be seen as a plus for Bradford, but Bradford have also had a tricky little run in League 2 in terms of results and now they’ve got to try and beat a top flight team over two legs.
“There will be big pressure on Villa, however, especially in the first leg. Will they try to get themselves a sizeable advantage, or will they go out thinking a draw might be alright and then go for it in the second leg? It will be very interesting to see.”
What would be very interesting indeed to see would be a penalty shoot-out at the end of the second leg. After incredibly winning nine successive shoot-outs, who would bet against the Bantams getting to Wembley in that most dramatic of fashions?
“They’ve had such a good run in shoot-outs,” noted Wetherall, “that if the tie were to go that far then I’m sure that they would have so much belief and confidence that it could finish as their night at Villa Park.”