Lacazette has ended his dry spell; now he’ll dump Chelsea out of the cup
Match Preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea – League Cup Semi-Final Leg 2 – 24.01.2017
Arsène Wenger is racking up the matches against Chelsea with this semi-final being his 62nd match against our west London neighbours. Under Antonio Conte Chelsea have become easier to beat for Arsenal, or at least we are certainly getting more positive results, with last season’s Premier League and Cup wins springing to mind.
We’ve just lost Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United and it remains to be seen what sort of effect that will have on the team and his replacement is cup-tied. We can all theorise what are the motivations behind Alexis dumping the side who reignited his career for a rival but it’s not unfair to say that at this moment in time he has a better chance of winning the league with Manchester United than Arsenal. Mourinho’s club may be paying him an incredibly salary but they’re one of the favourites here to win the league behind their local rivals and that is attraction enough.
If the weekend is anything to go by I would expect Arsenal to come out here all guns blazing, pun intended. The team will want to prove they can thrive without Alexis and also play for their places with new arrivals impending. A strong performance on Wednesday from Arsenal, reaching a final and then getting a trophy in the bag will certainly help Arsenal’s confidence heading into the final stretch of the season.
Mesut Ozil now needs to prove why losing Alexis isn’t that big a deal for Arsenal. Yes, we’re losing an incredible player but Mesut is our true talisman and replacing him would be even harder than replacing Alexis. We can find goals from anywhere, as shown against Palace, but Arsenal just doesn’t function as well sans Özil. Losing Mesut would set Arsenal back years but the good news is he is rumoured to be close to a new contract and I think he would thrive even more in a team where Alexis has been replaced by an intelligent midfielder and an explosive striker.
Winning the League Cup isn’t going to make up for our poor first half of the season and losing one of the world’s best players but it’s a foundation to build on and coupled with Özil signing a new contract will give the fans something to be optimistic about. I fancy the post-Alexis Arsenal to continue their Crystal Palace form and get a win here with Lacazette being a threat again.
Arsenal (from): Cech, Ospina, Macey, Bellerin, Holding, Chambers, Koscielny, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles, Mavropanos, Elneny, Xhaka, Wilshere, Özil, Nelson, Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi, Lacazette.
“It’s an important game and we want to go to the final. We have an opportunity to do it at home against Chelsea. I think the two teams know each other very well.” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal (10.01.2018)
- Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea (03.01.2018)
- Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal (17.09.2017)
Chelsea have been in patchy form in recent months, dropping points but losing few games making it less likely that the Champions will catch up with Manchester City, they were fortunate to gain a point against us in the league and they drew a blank in the FA Cup against Norwich. Conte is rumoured to be looking for a big front man with enquiries for Andy Carroll and Peter Crouch so perhaps we may be looking at a Chelsea side moving towards a less technical game.
- There have been six red cards in the last nine fixtures between these sides in all competitions, with Chelsea having a player sent off in three of the last five.
- This is Arsene Wenger’s 62nd meeting against Chelsea in all competitions, making them the side he has faced the most as Arsenal manager (W22, D18, L21).
- Wenger has never won the League Cup, losing both finals he has reached with Arsenal.
- Lacazette’s goal against Crystal Palace was the 500th goal scored by a French player for Arsenal.
The optimist in me is going for a 1-0 win for Arsenal.
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