Arsenal are the opponents once more as Chelsea look to give themselves a good chance of progressing to the final of the Carabao Cup in the first leg of the semi-final. Unlike last Wednesday, the tie will be played at Stamford Bridge with the return leg at the Emirates coming two weeks later. Both teams are expected to revert back to stronger sides after neither team made it through to the fourth round of the FA Cup with weaker teams – Arsenal are out for good.
After resting the likes of Cesc Fabregas, N’Golo Kante, Thibaut Courtois and Cesar Azpilicueta for the trip to Norwich, all are expected to play some part in this cup tie. Eden Hazard missed the trip to East Anglia with a knock he picked up against Arsenal last week and Antonio Conte has confirmed that he is fit to play in this one. David Luiz is unlikely to feature from the start after playing his first game since November last Saturday and the game could come too soon for new signing Ross Barkley.
Arsene Wenger already has an injury-hit squad and won’t want to risk Aaron Ramsey, Sead Kolasinac or Laurent Koscielny who are doubts for this semi-final.Nacho Monreal, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla all remain sidelined.
Probable Arsenal XI: Cech; Chambers, Mustafi, Holding; Bellerin, Wilshere, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette
Probable Chelsea XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Bakayoko, Alonso; Hazard, Morata.
Last week we saw Tiemoue Bakayoko give Mesut Ozil far too much space in the Chelsea half and the Blues came unstuck on multiple occasions as a result of this. N’Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas will have to do a better job than Bakayoko otherwise Thibaut Courtois is unlikely to keep a clean sheet.
Victor Moses was substituted at the Emirates last Wednesday after failing to impress against Ainsley Maitland-Niles so if he’s picked again, he’ll need to start attacking with more pace and confidence like Davide Zappacosta did if he wants to produce some important moments.
It was a battle of the goalkeepers last week with both Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois on top form despite conceding two each – they’ll have to be at their best if they want to make it through to the second leg with a nil against the opposition’s score.
Chelsea’s record against Arsenal
The last time these two met in the League Cup was back in 2013 when a newly-appointed Jose Mourinho saw his changed team run out 2-0 winners against Arsene Wenger’s men at the Emirates in the earlier rounds. Cesar Azpilicueta and Juan Mata were the goal scorers that day but they’ve had contrasting fortunes since in their Chelsea careers.
Chelsea and Arsenal met in the final in 2007 where a double from Didier Drogba saw the Blues come from behind after an early Theo Walcott goal. On opposite sides that day were Petr Cech and Cesc Fabregas – they’ll be wearing different colours in this semi-final 10 years later.
Chelsea have a decent record at the Emirates having only lost their once in their last seven seasons but winning in just two of those games. It’s a shame they don’t have Didier Drogba around anymore – he bagged 16 goals in 16 games against the Gunners for Chelsea, Galatasaray and the MLS all-stars.
It’s the second part of the January trilogy between these two sides but who can get a step closer to Wembley with a win?