Arsenal returns to the pitch just three days after their 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on the weekend as they take on Chelsea Tuesday night in a Capital Cup clash at the Emirates. However, manager Arsene Wenger won’t be able to complain about the congested fixture list considering that Chelsea played just yesterday and beat Manchester City 2-1 at home in the league. This means both teams didn’t get much of a rest and what trying to predict the squads for this fourth round game will be quite difficult.
Arsenal was embarrassed in this competition last season as they were beaten by Second-Division Bradford City in the quarterfinals. Wenger often plays his younger players in this cup and will likely do so again at the risk of getting knocked out of it. The Gunners just managed to squeak past West Brom in the third round by beating them in a penalty shootout. Wenger stated, “I will rotate against Chelsea but play with a team that has a good chance to qualify as well. That will be the target.”
Arsenal hasn’t won this competition, which is actually the League Cup, since way back in 1993. They defeated Sheffield Wednesday back then and were beaten in the 2006/07 final by Chelsea and in the 2010/11 final by Birmingham City. With the team not winning any type of silverware for close to a decade now, it’s time they took the League Cup a little more seriously.
This match features the top two teams in the Premier League since the Gunners are sitting in first place with 22 points and Chelsea are right behind them with 20. And of course, it’s also a London derby. Arsenal is heading into a tough stretch of the schedule and the next few games should tell the fans if they’re legitimate contenders or pretenders.
After meeting Chelsea the Gunners take on Liverpool at the Emirates on Saturday and then travel to Germany to meet Borussia Dortmund in a Champions League showdown before heading north to Old Trafford to face Manchester United. Wenger remarked, “You worry about fatigue a little bit but not too much. Sometimes when you play every three days you look tired and then in three days you are flying again. It goes a bit in cycles.”
With Wenger rotating the squad we could see Thomas Vermaelen enter the back four in place of Laurent Koscielny while Carl Jenkinson could replace Bacary Sagna and Nacho Monreal may play instead of Kieran Gibbs. Young German Serge Gnabry, who just signed a new contract, may start the match along with Jack Wilshere. It’s possible that striker Nicklas Bendtner could start, but with Chelsea being such a strong and deep squad it’s likely that Olivier Giroud will be on the pitch.
Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey may be rested in favour of Tomas Rosicky and Thomas Eisfeld. Wenger could also use young Japanese winger Ryo Miyaichi. There are some players the manager won’t have the luxury of using since the Gunners still have a rather lengthy injury list. Players who won’t play include Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski, Yaya Sanogo, and Abou Diaby. It’s also doubtful that Mathieu Flamini will be dressed. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has a relatively healthy squad to choose with just Marco van Ginkel being out long term.
Chelsea won both league meetings last season by scores of 2-1. They go into the match with five wins and a draw in their past six contests overall while Arsenal has four wins, a draw and a loss. The last five games between these two clubs has seen each team win and lose two with the other clash being a draw. Overall, these two clubs have met each other 165 times over the years with Arsenal winning 66 times, Chelsea winning 52 and 47 games being draws. The Gunners have outscored them 240 to 216. At home, Arsenal has won 39, lost 22 and drawn 21 and has outscored their neighbours 130 to 110.