Arsenal and Chelsea head to the Emirates to determine which of the two London rivals will go to the Carabao Cup final.

By 90Min
January 23, 2018

Chelsea travel to the Emirates looking to secure a place in the Carabao Cup final, with the two sides meeting for the third time this month. The previous meetings have ended level, with Arsenal gaining a last-gasp point at home in the league, and the two sides drawing a blank in the first leg at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago.

Arsenal have not reached the final since 2011, when they suffered a late defeat to Birmingham City, when Chelsea last won the cup in 2015, beating Tottenham 2-0 at Wembley.

Classic Encounter

The last time the London clubs met in the League Cup was in the final itself, 11 years ago, when then-champions Chelsea took on a youthful Arsenal side, presenting another opportunity to see old adversaries Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger lock horns. The match remains the only League Cup final the two have contested against one another, despite their bitter, decade-long rivalry.

The Gunners started with a side possessing an average age of less than 21, with Wenger opting for future talents, such as Cesc Fabregas, Abou Diaby and Theo Walcott in Cardiff.

It proved to be a masterstroke from the Frenchman, with the then-17-year-old Walcott using his blistering pace to leave Ricardo Carvalho for dead and slot past Petr Cech for a 12th-minute lead. It was the young Englishman's first goal for the club and stunned Chelsea.

Arsenal's lead didn't last for long, though, with talismanic Didier Drogba adding his 27th goal of the season just eight minutes later to level the scores. The Ivorian ran onto a lovely ball from Michael Ballack and rifled past Manuel Almunia. Undeterred, Wenger's charges continued to press and controlled the match, with the two sides entering the break all square.

Drama ensued after the break, with a seemingly innocuous corner leading to John Terry diving for a header, only to meet Abou Diaby's outstretched boot to the face. The England captain swallowed his tongue, was knocked unconscious and taken off on a stretcher.

Fired up by the loss of their captain, Chelsea pressed on and took advantage of tired Arsenal legs, with Drogba popping up six minutes from time to head home his second and win the Carling Cup for Mourinho's men.

The game finished under a cloud, when a clash between John Obi Mikel and Kolo Toure spread into an all-out brawl between players and staff, with referee Howard Webb sending off the two instigators and Emmanuel Adebayor. It made for an ugly conclusion to the last final at the Millennium Stadium, falling just months before the opening of the new Wembley.

Key Battles

Cesar Azpilicueta is widely seen as one of, if not the most consistent defender in the league, but will face the unenviable task of containing Henrikh Mkhitaryan on his potential Arsenal debut. 

Despite his fall from grace this season under Jose Mourinho, the Armenian remains one of the most dangerous prospects in European football, and Azpilicueta will have his hands full for the whole 90 minutes.

Down the other end, Calum Chambers will be under pressure to man-mark Alvaro Morata out of the game, after losing him several times at the Emirates.

Were it not for the Spaniard's woeful finishing, the match would have been over as a contest long before Arsenal had a chance to level late on. The young Englishman will need to step up his game to contain Chelsea's number nine, back from suspension after his late dismissal against Stoke.

Team News

Alvaro Morata and Pedro are available again after their extra-time red cards in the penalty-shootout win over Norwich last week. Thibaut Courtois, having missed the 4-0 win over Brighton on Saturday, could return against the north Londoners.

Ross Barkley, having been an unused substitute at the Amex Stadium, could be utilized by Antonio Conte for the first time in an effort to book their place at Wembley.

Arsene Wenger has had a boost, with Jack Wilshere recovering from his minor injury at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, and will be available for the second leg. New signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan could play, two days after completing his swap deal with United-bound Alexis Sanchez.

Predicted Arsenal Lineup: Cech; Chambers, Mustafi, Monreal; Bellerin, Xhaka, Wilshere, Maitland-Niles; Ozil, Lacazette, Mkhitaryan.

Predicted Chelsea Lineup: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Barkley, Drinkwater, Alonso; Pedro, Morata, Hazard.


Chelsea are unbeaten in 12 matches and have a historically good record in cup competitions, despite losing the recent FA Cup final and Community Shield against Arsene Wenger's side.

However, Arsenal have home advantage and are buoyed by the arrival of Mkhitaryan to offset the loss of Alexis this week. Having acquitted themselves well in the reverse at Stamford Bridge, they possess a great threat to the west Londoners' Wembley hopes.

Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea (Arsenal win on penalties)

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