Enough about Sunday’s F.A. Cup embarrassment at Nottingham Forest, tonight we face a much bigger task as we head across London to Stamford Bridge where we face Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final.
After the thriller at The Emirates last week and the recent history between the two sides in the league and cup competitions this promises to be a great battle.
Appearing in our first League Cup semi final since the 2010/11 season, when we beat Ipswich Town, we’re closing in on Arsene Wenger’s third chance to put a League Cup in his trophy cabinet for the first time.
His first two chances where squandered in 2007 in extra time against tonight’s opponents in Cardiff and in 2011 to a late Obafemi Martins winner at Wembley which handed Birmingham City the cup.
However, with Wenger admitting he’d “love to win it”, tonight could see him go all out in his chase for another winners’ medal.
When asked if he’d treat this game as he did Forest on Sunday, Wenger said:
“We want to respond, it’s a different game, a semi-final which is important against a big team so psychologically the whole context will be different (from Sunday).
“On Sunday I played a team who had a good chance to win but we didn’t have an expected performance, so the team will be changed”
With that being well known to Arsenal fans, as Sunday was yet another part of Wenger’s rotation policy for this season, it does make the prospect of tonight that bit more encouraging.
With players who starred last week coming back into side a bit fresher than Chelsea players who played away at Norwich, this could work in Wenger’s favour.
However, we must still be aware that we haven’t been great on the road this season. Picking up only three wins away from home in domestic football this season is a huge worry but its also important to remember, when we visited Stamford Bridge in September we came away with a point and a disallowed goal.
The Arsenal boss is also taking an optimistic view approaching the game:
“We had some outstanding moments (last week) going forward with our combinations at high pace and creative football which we want to play but we also showed mental resources up to the last minute to come back to 2-2.”
Furthermore, knowing that we can go to the Bridge and play convincingly after so long could help our confidence massively.
One thing that is certain though is that we mustn’t give away cheap goals. Since the turn of the year Arsenal have been giving away penalties as part of their January Sale but hopefully with some more discipline and clarity that won’t be the case tonight.
With Wenger facing the second game of his three-match touchline ban for disputing refereeing decisions, here were his thoughts on whether VAR is the right move:
“Yes of course, because so many things have happened recently that I think we welcome it but first if all there’s still a demand for clear rules to decide what is and isn’t a penalty before we go into VAR because that could lead to more confusion.”
One thing that is leaving nobody in confusion though, is the fact that tonight’s game is not one you want to miss as Arsenal look to halfway-secure their tickets to Wembley.