Chelsea to the Emirates Stadium in a mouth watering clash between the Premier League’s top two sides to date.
Arsene Wenger is yet to add this trophy to his impressive haul as Gunners boss and his track record in this competition points to yet another chance for the club’s youth prospects to be given an opportunity to impress in the first-team.
But London derbies in any competition provide that added pressure to ensure victory, which means Wenger may feel more inclined to field a stronger side than perhaps he may have done had he be preparing for a tie with a team from a lower division.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho initially indicated that he was going to field under-21 players due to his players being in action just 48 hours after against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. But the strength in depth Mourinho has at his disposal, as well as his self confessed respect for the Blues faithful, means he can still afford to field a side strong enough to overcome the Gunners.
With both sides in terrific form in the Premier League and both set to field strong XIs, this has the potential to be the game that makes or breaks either side’s momentum.
And all the stats point to a Blues victory, despite Arsenal boasting nine wins and 29 goals from their last ten Capital One Cup ties at the Emirates. Chelsea have lost just four of their last 23 meetings with the Gunners in all competitions, and they’ve won their last four League Cup meetings with them, including the 2007 final.
Mourinho won this trophy twice during his first spell as Chelsea boss and he’s never been one to prioritise one competition over another, so it would be hard to dismiss them as favourites to win the competition this time around as well.
Arsenal will be without Mikel Arteta, who is suspended after his red card against Crystal Palace on Saturday, and Mathieu Flamini, who is struggling with a groin injury. But, despite Wenger looking to field a side worthy of progressing to the next round, Serge Gnabry, Thomas Eisfeld, Ryo Miyaichi and Isaac Hayden are all expected to feature, while Nicklas Bendtner, Thomas Vermaelen and keeper Lukasz Fabianski could also provide the much needed experience for the Gunners.
Mourinho’s aforementioned strength in depth means he will be able to call upon world class talent in the names of Juan Mata, Michael Essien and David Luiz, as well as Mark Schwarzer who can provide adequate cover for Petr Cech.
And it’s that kind of talent that Mourinho has waiting in the wings at Stamford Bridge that should give him the advantage over Wenger’s high-flying Arsenal at the Emirates on Tuesday night. He might be angry with the scheduling of this fixture, but you can be sure the ‘Special One’ will do all he can to ensure Blues fans will have bragging rights over their London rivals comes Wednesday morning.
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