Wednesday - Arsenal vs Chelsea: Carabao Cup Semi-final Preview
The Emirates stadium will see Arsenal battle it out against Chelsea in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final. A barren draw at the Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago means Chelsea need just a scoring draw to proceed to the final. This places the onus on Arsenal to come out and attack which may play right into Antonio Conte's tactics. The winner of this clash will probably have a date with Manchester City at Wembley as the runaway league leaders are carrying a slight advantage in their second leg. They beat Bristol City 2-1 and despite Guardiola being expected to rest some of his stars, City should have enough to proceed.
Antonio Conte's record against Arsenal seems to be the only blemish on his Chelsea CV. Apart from an odd result here and there, Chelsea were once the superior side in these derby matches. All that changed after Conte arrived though.
The first match between the two sides saw Arsenal comfortably win 3-0. In hindsight, every Chelsea fan would cherish this moment. Although they lost, Antonio Conte brought in Marcos Alonso and switched to a 3-4-3 formation. This proved to be the blueprint for Chelsea winning the title. Going on a 13-game winning streak on their way to victory. Chelsea did win the return leg 3-1, but that has been Conte's sole victory over Arsene Wenger in seven official games. Losing both the FA Cup and the Community Shield in the process. This makes the tie unpredictable and exciting. Will Conte break his run against Wenger or will the Frenchman yet again deny Chelsea another trophy?
Previous games & injuries
Arsenal bounced back from a surprise 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth to beat Crystal Palace 4-1 with Lacazzete, Monreal, Iwobi, and Koscienly on the scoresheet. This was the best way they could show their fans that there is indeed life after Alexis Sanchez. The transfer window has also seen Arsenal lose Coquelin to Valencia for £12M and Walcott to Everton for £20. Mkhitaryan and Konstantinos have joined though are both unexpected to feature in the game. Chelsea also put for past Brighton as Hazard got himself a brace. In his current form, both the Arsenal midfield and defense have to stay alert lest he repeats last season's heroics. New signing Barkley will definitely play in Chelsea colors for the first time since his transfer from Everton, possibly from the bench.
Andreas Christensen was substituted after a head collision against Brighton but is expected to be fit for the encounter. Garry Cahill, Fabregas, Drinkwater and Courtois, however, remain doubtful for this game. Chelsea will, however, welcome Back Pedro and Morata from suspension. Wenger will be without all Welbeck, Giroud, Ramsey, and Nacho Monreal. Arsenal will travel to Wales in the weekend to face Swansea while Chelsea will host Newcastle United. With relatively winnable fixtures coming up, both Managers may decide to field their strongest sides. Since this is the second leg of the semi-final it would give both teams a better chance at a trophy as Manchester City seemingly have the league wrapped up and Europe is never easy to Navigate.
Arsenal: (3-4-3) Ospina: Kolasinac, Mustafi, Koscienly: Bellerin, Wilshere, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles: Ozil, Iwobi, Lacazzete
Chelsea: (3-4-3) Caballero: Azpillicueta, Luiz, Rüdiger: Zappacosta, Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso: Hazard, Pedro, Morata
Predicted score: 1-1