Özil the key to reaching the Carabao Cup final
Match Preview: Chelsea vs. Arsenal – League Cup Semi-Final Leg 1 – 10.01.2017
This is Arsène Wenger’s 61st match against Chelsea as Arsenal manager. In the past decade wins against Chelsea have been rare for our veteran manager but when it mattered most last season, in the FA Cup Final, Arsenal came up with the goods and went away with the trophy. The Gunners also came out on top in the Community Shield, and last season saw convincing wins for the home sides in league fixtures.
However, after studying the matches against Chelsea since Antonio Conte became their manager I would say that Arsenal has a good to better chance of winning this one. Whenever Arsenal and Chelsea have had matching formations in the Wenger vs. Conte era the outcome of the match has largely favoured the Gunners except last week when Arsenal were clearly the better team but were ultimately let down by some suspect officiating – again!
Having been unceremoniously ejected from the FA Cup, Arsenal’s aim for now will be to put together a run of wins to catapult themselves back into contention for a Champions League spot and a win on Wednesday would not only help with that but shorten the odds on finishing the season with silverware – although I’m sure the Gunners would prefer to win the Europa League over the Carabao Cup. Standing in Arsenal’s way of the Carabao Cup Final is Chelsea who according to several bookmakers are better priced than Arsenal for winning the first trophy of the year. According to 888sports Manchester City is the favourite with odds of 1.57 followed by Chelsea (4.75) and Arsenal (5.50); click here for a full 888sports app review. A strong performance on Wednesday from Arsenal will change those betting odds and 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 will be back in the squad having been one of Wenger’s nine changes for the FA Cup 3rd round match against Nottingham Forest, a game in which it became clear that Arsenal just don’t function as a cohesive attacking unit without our majestic play-maker. Something my good friend James Stokes said over the weekend about Mesut has really struck a chord with me: “It’s hard to mock Liverpool when they’ve sold the budget Mesut Özil for £142m and we might lose the real thing for nothing…”.
Losing Mesut would set Arsenal back 5 years and if, according to the manager, the player really is happy here and wants to stay the best way to keep him is to generate those euphoric moments that come from winning trophies. The League Cup isn’t going to convince one of the world’s best players that his best years should be spent at our club but it’s a foundation to build on for the final stretch of the season. I wouldn’t like to bet on Arsenal keeping Özil but I do know we have absolutely no chance if we don’t play our best side in knockout competitions.
Arsenal (from): Cech, Ospina, Macey, Bellerin, Holding, Koscielny, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Xhaka, Wilshere, Özil, Walcott, Iwobi, Alexis, Welbeck, Lacazette.
“The target in 2018 is to win every single game, and the next one is Chelsea.” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea (03.01.2018)
- Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal (17.09.2017)
- Arsenal 1(4)-1(1) Chelsea (06.08.2017)
Chelsea have been in fine form in recent months, dropping few points, however it hasn’t been enough to see them 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. Combine their results with their manager’s focus seemingly distracted by an ongoing spat with Mourinho and it’s easy to draw the conclusion that our West London neighbours are struggling with concentration.
- There have been six red cards in the last eight fixtures between these sides in all competitions, with Chelsea having a player sent off in three of the last four.
- This is Arsene Wenger’s 61st meeting against Chelsea in all competitions, making them the side he has faced the most as Arsenal manager (W22, D17, L21).
- Wenger has never won the League Cup, losing both finals he has taken Arsenal to.
The optimist in me is going for a 2-1 win for Arsenal.
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