It seems like we’ve had our fill of Chelsea so far this season, and it’s yet another match against the Blues - but this one has a lot hinging on it.
It’s the second leg of the Carabao Cup Semi-Final, and this may be our best chance of grabbing some silverware. Some may scoff at what is still the lowest priority in terms of achievements and trophies in a season, but it is still a trip to Wembley for us fans, and a trophy Wenger has never won.
The last time we lifted the league cup was way back in 1993, so it’s high time we lifted it again, although we’ll have to do it the hard way. If we include the Community Shield, we’ve played Chelsea, the results have been 1-1, 0-0, 2-2 and 0-0. Wenger seems able to match the tactical calls of Conte, but separating the two teams is proving to be quite difficult.
The good thing is that we’ve ample time to recover after this game, as our next game is our PL fixture against Swansea six days later. We can afford to go gung-ho at this fixture and name our strongest side, and it’s something we’ll need to do.
Another plus is the fact we’re playing at The Emirates, and we’re far stronger at home this season. In the first leg, we had a defence on its last legs through injury, a midfield sorely lacking numbers and an attack missing Mesut Ozil, and we still snatched a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge. So there’s plenty of reasons to be cheerful.
Especially now we’ve got rid of Alexis Sanchez. No denying he was our most impactful player, but we had to change our system to accommodate him, and now we can go back to what we know best, our own brand of pass and move.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan will most likely miss out, so we’ll have to wait to see him in action, but this match is an exciting prospect for us. We win this, if we defeat Chelsea again, then we’ve got a final to look forward to.
There most likely won’t be many changes to the side that defeated Crystal Palace. The one that will smart the most is Nacho Monreal. The Spaniard had an explosive 34 minute return from injury, before succumbing to injury again. It’s unclear how long we’ll be missing Nacho, so our defence may line up with Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Calum Chambers.
Aaron Ramsey may make it back into the starting lineup, with either Granit Xhaka or Jack Wilshere making way. The only other change may see Mohamed Elneny play some part, after impressing in our win over Palace in the weekend.
In terms of our attack, let’s hope Mesut Ozil isn’t rested. The German made his return over Palace, and he was instrumental. If he plays, then we have a chance.
Chelsea will play their strongest team, as this is for silverware and chances for it don’t come around all the time. Eden Hazard will of course present the main threat, and Alvaro Morata will have a point to prove after going through a bit of a rut recently. His chances that he missed in the last two games between the two sides means he will want to right his wrongs.
Let’s keep our home run going and send Chelsea packing.
Predicted lineup - Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Chambers, Elneny, Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil, Lacazette.
Predicted scoreline - 2-1 to The Arsenal