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Arsenal v Chelsea - Place in Cup Final Up for Grabs at the Emirates

For the third time in three weeks, Arsene Wenger's Arsenal side come up against London neighbours Chelsea. This time, it's on home turf and there's a place in the League Cup Final up for grabs.It's actually been a pretty good few days for Arsenal – and it’s the first time you can say that for a while. First, there was the resounding win against Palace; then both Tottenham and Liverpool had disappointing league results; the Alexis Sanchez debacle was finally resolved; Henrikh Mkhitaryan was brought in and the club are being heavily linked with a move for his old teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the coming days. So, generally speaking, a pretty good few days; but a win against the Blues and a place in the League Cup Final would be the Cherry on the cake.The winners of this game will be up against the winners of Manchester City vs Bristol City, with the Premier League leaders the likeliest to win as they bring a 2-1 aggregate advantage into the match. There's no point focusing on the potential next match just yet, however, as Antonio Conte and his side will also be vying to put themselves in with a chance of putting their name on the cup.Frustratingly, new signing and Sanchez replacement Mkhitaryan is unavailable for this match as he is cup-tied. While he may not have been given his first cap in a semi-final 48 hours after signing for the club anyway, it is annoying that the reason he can play no part is because he played the final twenty minutes of Manchester United's quarter final cup defeat to Bristol City.Back in genuine contention for this match is midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who missed Saturday’s game at Palace with illness after recovering from a thigh injury. Nacho Monreal, who had a terrific game at the weekend, is hoping to be fit despite having to leave the field injured on Saturday.The Blues will welcome back Pedro and Alvaro Morata from suspension following their sending-offs in extra-time against Norwich City in the FA Cup 3rd Round replay, although Cesc Fabregas, Danny Drinkwater and Gary Cahill are all major injury doubts.In terms of how Arsenal will line-up at the top, Mesut Ozil will hope to continue his form following a terrific display against Crystal Palace, and Alexandre Lacazette will aim to be amongst the goals once more.Down the other end, it seems likely that David Ospina will play in goals for the Gunners, as he has featured in all of the League Cup matches thus far, meaning Petr Cech will not get an opportunity to face-up against the side he spent much of his career between the sticks for.It will also be interesting to see how Calum Chambers – if he is played – copes under the pressure of man-marking Alvaro Morata in the game, after losing him several times at the Emirates at the beginning of the month. Luckily for Arsenal on that occasion, the Spanish striker had an exceptionally poor day when it came to finishing, as if he hadn't, the game would have been finished long before Hector Bellerin's late equalizer.The other home scorer in that game, Jack Wilshire, will be back in the side to face the Blue's, news which his manager will be delighted to hear following a subsitutuion due to injury in the previous leg. He played the full game against Palace, and he put in another top performance, so it’s good that he has returned to the team and hopefully can remain fit.Another English player who may well feature in the game for his first match of the season is Chelsea's new signing Ross Barkley, having been an unused substitute at the Amex Stadium at the weekend. The former Everton midfielder has clear potential, so it will be interesting to see if Conte is able to unearth this.While the previous leg may not have inspired confidence in terms of goal-scoring, one can be hopeful that this game will be different. Not only do both teams need to score to progress, they both scored 4 goals in their respective league games at the weekend. Arsenal manager Wenger admitted as much, saying in his pre-match press conference: "The first leg was very blocked, the second leg will certainly be more open, because at some stage, the teams will have to open up to try to win the game. It should be much more spectacular than the first one."Perhaps Chelsea's greatest threat, winger Eden Hazard - who made short work of Brighton in a 4-0 league thrashing at the weekend - wants his side to come out with all guns blazing and attack Arsenal, stating as much during his pre-game build-up questioning. The League Cup Semi-Final is a finale in itself - the final time in which Arsenal and Chelsea will play this season. This is, quite frankly amazingly, the 8th time these teams have met in all competitions over the past 11 months, so you'd be doing well to find 2 sides in top-flight football who have played as many games against each other. Those games include 3 League fixtures - 1 Chelsea win and 2 draws, including the recent thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates; 1 FA Cup match, that also happened to be the final, with Arsenal coming out on top to win the trophy; the Community Shield, contested between Cup and League champions, with Arsenal coming out on top once more; a showpiece friendly in Beijing, where Chelsea finished winners; and finally, most recently, the rather boring nil-nil draw in the first leg of this league Cup Semi Final just two weeks ago. So, after all those matches, it's all to play for. Over the course of the above-mentioned games, the scores now stand at 2-3-2; one thing's for sure, there will be an overall winner by the end of Wednesday night's game.Arsenal play Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in the League Cup Semi-Final on Wednesday the 24th of January at the Emirates Stadium, with kick-off scheduled for 7.45pm.