We take a look at Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg game between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. The second of three meetings between both London club this month sees the pressure solidly on the North Londoners.
Chelsea suffered a disappointing setback at the weekend as a fairly strong starting eleven was held to a goalless draw away to Norwich in the FA Cup, forcing a replay in an already congested fixture list for Antonio Conte’s men.
This followed on from their 2-2 draw away to Arsenal in the Premier League, but The Blues will be hoping that the home advantage can tip the scales in their favor for this first leg tie in the League Cup semi-final.
Despite Saturday’s disappointment, Chelsea are still in good form. They are unbeaten in eight competitive matches and have won five of them, and at Stamford Bridge, they haven’t lost in 11 competitive games. Nine of these have ended in victory too, so they will understandably feel quite confident about their chances on Wednesday.
To be honest, The Gunners aren’t having the best of seasons all round really. They are now winless in three matches in all competitions and find themselves down in 6th position in the Premier League. Now that they have already relinquished the defense of their FA Cup trophy, this is one of their few remaining hopes of silverware.
Arsenal hasn’t been at their best overall this campaign, but away from home, it’s been a really poor showing. They have won just five of their 15 trips away this season, losing six times and being beaten comprehensively by both Liverpool and Manchester City.
They may have been poor at the weekend but overall they are in good form, especially at Stamford Bridge. Meanwhile, Arsenal are playing terribly away from home.
Chelsea and Arsenal have each won one, drawn four, and lost one of their last six meetings with one another. Chelsea has won 71% of their home games this season, including 90% of their last ten.
Arsenal has only won 33% of their away matches in all competitions this season, losing 40% of them. 67% of the last six meetings between these sides have seen at least three goals.
Arsenal’s only progression against Chelsea in the competition came in a fourth-round win at Highbury in 1976-77.
The Gunners have won just one of their last nine visits to Stamford Bridge in all competitions (W1 D1 L7), a 5-3 win in the Premier League in October 2011.
The Blues have progressed from four of their last five League Cup semi-finals (2005, 2007, 2008 and 2015), failing only under Rafael Benitez against Swansea in 2012-13.
This will be Arsenal’s 15th appearance in the League Cup semi-finals – only Liverpool (17) have played in more.
Eden Hazard is the only doubt for Chelsea, and new signing Ross Barkley could potentially make his debut if deemed fit enough.
Arsenal will be without Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal, Olivier Giroud, and Santi Cazorla for this match, whilst Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey are both doubts.
What The Managers Are Saying
When you play every three days, it’s important to make rotations – but at the same time, your team must be very strong, otherwise you risk dropping in this trophy.
“It’s a very important game for us, a semi-final and the chance to win a trophy. We deserve to be here and it will be a tough game against Arsenal.
“Our run in this competition hasn’t been easy. In the fourth round we played Everton, the fifth round was against Bournemouth and now in the semi-final, we play Arsenal.
“But we must be very happy because we have reached the semi-final. We want to try to do our best to reach the final.”
“In this tie, over 180 minutes, it’s always a bit different.
“You want to go there, be solid and try to take advantage of every mistake, of every weakness, to win the game. We also know there is another game after that, and we need to be solid defensively too.
“I would love to win [the Carabao Cup] because we are now in the semi-final and if it’s an opportunity we will try to take it. There is still a long way to go because you have Man City against Bristol City and then it is us against Chelsea, so it is a bit similar to last year in the FA Cup.”
Chelsea Possible lineups: Caballero, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Cahill, Moses, Bakayoko, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso, Hazard, Morata.
Arsenal Possible lineups: Ospina, Chambers, Mertesacker, Holding, Bellerin, Wilshere, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Sanchez, Welbeck, Lacazette.