Looking ahead to the Carabao Cup semi-final and Chelsea‘s Eden Hazard is the key man to stop for the Gunners in the second leg of this fixture. After his brace at the weekend, he needs to be on song to account for Chelsea’s seemingly troublesome issues up front. Arsenal is out to prove that they are still a force in spite of the departure of Alexis Sanchez.
Carabao Cup Preview: Gunners Must Stop Eden Hazard
Arsenal comes into this cup tie after a very surprising, yet convincing 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace. This match came after the massive transfer talk about Alexis Sanchez leaving the club, and how the Gunners would cope without him. They were 4-0 up within 22 minutes. It seems like they did not miss Sanchez at all.
Chelsea comes into this fixture with massive questions about their attacking threat and in particlular the centre-forward position. Were it not for Eden Hazard’s brace, they may not have beaten Brighton and Hove Albion 4-0. Hazard put the Blues ahead in the third minute, and scored a second goal roughly 3 minutes later.
Arsene Wenger reverted to a back-four on Saturday and is likely to stick with the same formation for this fixture. Wenger said after the match that Nacho Monreal’s withdrawal was precautionary and that the Spaniard should be okay. Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not feature in this clash as he is new at the club. The Armenian playmaker has already played in the Carabao Cup for Manchester United this season and would be ineligible. Olivier Giroud remains out. There is a slight chance of a return for Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey. Santi Cazorla is a long-term Arsenal absentee.
After serving suspensions at the weekend, Alvaro Morata and Pedro Rodriguez are available for selection. Danny Drinkwater could return from an ankle injury picked up against Norwich in the FA Cup. Willy Caballero is set to keep his place in goal as Thibaut Courtois nurses an ankle injury. Caballero could be seen as a penalty specialist, he tends to always save quite a few. Andreas Christensen is available after being withdrawn on the weekend due to a head injury. The Dane was not concussed, so is up for selection as well. Gary Cahill and former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas remain sidelined.
The two London rivals drew the first leg 0-0 in a dire encounter at Stamford Bridge. Both sides have had their fair share of criticism over the last while. This especially in the attacking department, as both sides have had striking issues. For Arsenal, Alexandre Lacazette could be seen as disappointing and has not scored enough goals. For Chelsea, the same can be said for Álvaro Morata. Both players cost the clubs big money in the summer, and were seen as exciting prospects at the start of the season.
What is noteworthy is the talent of midfielders around them. Eden Hazard and Mesut Özil are special. They both have the ability to greatly influence a match. They have been in fine form recently and will need to be at their best to help take their respective sides into the final. Hazard is often remembered for THAT solo goal against Arsenal that had defenders in twos and threes and unable to tackle him. If Hazard can conjure up more of that class and his recent scoring form, Chelsea is in good stead to defeat their London rivals. Hazard has eight goals and two assists while Özil has four goals and six assists in the Premier League season.
Bold words from the Belgian
In a recent interview, Hazard said: “We will go there to win for sure because we want to win trophies at the end and the League Cup is a good trophy. If we are thinking to defend against Arsenal it’s a bad thing because we need to score goals. We will go there to create chances because if we don’t create chances we can’t score. It’s that simple.”
Chelsea has not won at The Emirates since 24 January 2016, while Arsenal has only lost once in their last 10 at home. The last four between these sides have ended in a draw with the community shield fixture being won in extra time by Arsenal. Wednesday’s match will be the first time Chelsea play away from home in this season’s Carabao Cup, having recorded home wins over Nottingham Forest, Everton and Bournemouth in previous rounds.
Goals are likely as both sides have exceptional attacking options.
Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea