The Emirates, London
October 29, 2013; 19:45 BST
Arsenal have made a flying start to the season and currently lead the Premier League table, with a two points advantage over Chelsea. The Gunners have lost just once in their last 14 fixtures in all competitions and are now being considered as serious title challengers this season. The League Cup still remains one of their best possibilities to win silverware and end the long drought; it is one trophy that has eluded Arsene Wenger during his long stint at the club.
Arsenal are coming into this match on the back of a 2-0 victory over Norwich as Olivier Giroud and Mikel Arteta got on the score sheet. In their last League Cup fixture Arsenal travelled to face West Bromwich Albion and ended up winning the game on penalties. The game ended 1-1 in fulltime with Saido Berahino cancelling out Thomas Eisfeld’s opener.
Chelsea are currently second in the points table and are currently in eye-catching form. They have recovered well from the three consecutive defeats they suffered since their loss to Bayern Munich in the Super Cup. They are currently on a five match winning streak and are undefeated in their last eight matches.
The Blues are coming into this game on the back of a big win against Manchester City. It was perhaps their most important game of the season so far and Jose Mourinho’s men showed enough determination to grab a crucial victory. In their last League Cup match they got a comfortable win over Swindon Town as Fernando Torres and Ramires scored for the away side.
Interestingly Chelsea have had the upper hand over Arsenal in recent meetings between these two sides. Arsenal’s last win over Chelsea came in 2011 when Robin van Persie scored a wonderful hat-trick at Stamford Bridge. The last meeting between Arsenal and Chelsea in a knockout tournament came in the 2009 FA Cup fixture when Didier Drogba scored a memorable late winner.
Arsenal FC – Team News, Lineup And Formation
Arsene Wenger has a host of injury concerns ahead of this fixture as he has had for most of the season so far. Yaya Sanogo, Abou Diaby, Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain are all out of contention for this game, while Mathieu Flamini, who was substituted in the opening ten minutes of the game against Norwich with a groin injury, is the latest addition to that list. The Frenchman is expected to be out for 2-3 weeks. Mikel Arteta, who was shown a red card in the last match, will also serve his suspension in this game.
Arsene Wenger is expected to make as many as nine changes to the starting line-up that was fielded against Norwich in the weekend. Fabianski will replace Szczesny in goal while Monreal, Thomas Vermaelen and Carl Jenkinson will start in the defence alongside Koscielny. With both Flamini and Arteta out of contention, Wenger will have revert back to the pairing of Wilshere and Ramsey in the pivot in front of the defence.
Nicklas Bendtner will lead the line up front as Giroud is rested for this game, while Gnabry and Rosicky will start along with Cazorla behind him. Ozil will start from the bench in this match as Wenger looks to rotate his squad.
While Wenger has enough depth in the attacking third to make these changes without hugely affecting the quality, it is in the defensive half where they might struggle. Chelsea are also expected to field a second string side, but the Blues’ second choice attackers are more than handy. Vermaelen hasn’t been a regular in the side so his form and match fitness will be tested in this game, while Jenkinson has looked shaky defensively whenever he has started on the right.
The absence of Flamini and Arteta could also prove to be a big miss against Chelsea as neither Wilshere or Ramsey are defensively discipline enough to play in the role of a holding midfielder. They will have to be careful about not exposing the back four to the Chelsea attack too often.
Possible Starting Line up [4-3-3]: Fabianski (GK); Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Monreal; Wilshere, Ramsey; Gnabry, Rosicky, Cazorla; Bendtner
Chelsea FC – Team News, Lineup And Formation
Unlike Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho doesn’t have any major injury concern to deal with at the moment. Marko van Ginkel remains the only player on the side-line due to injury ahead of this game.
Mourinho has been furious with the way Chelsea’s game has been scheduled just 48 hours after their big match against Manchester City on Sunday. Earlier he has threatened to field his youth team in protest, but has later back down from the stance and said that the club will have respect the fans. But despite this, none of the players used against Man City is expected to be fielded against Arsenal. Mourinho has enough depth in his squad to use a fairly strong second string side.
Veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer will replace Petr Cech in goal while Cesar Azpilicueta and Ryan Bertrand will replace Ivanovic and Ashley Cole respectively. David Luiz, who has received some criticism for his recent performances, will start in this game alongside young center back Tomas Kalas.
Lampard and Ramires will be rested for this game and the duo will be replaced by the pairing of Mikel and Essien. In the attacking third of the midfield, Juan Mata, who started on the bench against Manchester City, will start along with Willian and De Bruyne. Upfront it will come down between Samuel Eto’o or Demba Ba to lead the line.
Chelsea have a relatively in experienced back line for this game and the midfield will have to protect them. The other problem that the Blues might face is the fact that neither Mikel nor Essien is known for their passing ability – this might slow down their transfer of possession from defence to attack. Juan Mata will be the key as the Spaniard can drop deep and help in building up play from the back.
Possible Starting Line-Up [4-2-3-1]: Schwarzer (GK); Azpilicueta, Luiz, Kalas, Bertrand; Mikel, Essien; De Bruyne, Mata, Willian; Eto’o
Player To Watch Out For
Juan Mata (Chelsea FC)
The Spaniard once again missed out in the match against Manchester City and he has started in only four league matches so far this season. Juan Mata has point to prove in this game. With Arsenal playing Wilshere and Ramsey in the pivot, there might be a lot of space for him to exploit in-between the lines of the defence and the midfield. Also Chelsea will mostly depend on him to orchestrate the build-up play in this game. His performance against Arsenal will have a huge impact on the outcome of this match.
Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea [Penalties]
Boyed by the home support and derby atmosphere Arsenal are expected come out all guns glazing. The home side will look to score early in this game and Chelsea will have to be organised to handle it. But the away side will slowly grow into the game and look to hurt Arsenal on the break using their pace upfront. It will be a close game with plenty of goals and one which might be decided on penalties.