Arsenal – Chelsea (Capital One Cup)
When Chelsea and Arsenal enter the pitch on Tuesday we will see how each of them dealt with the conundrum. Desire to win versus the intelligent move of managing resources, the balancing act of this Capital One Cup fixture. Because no matter what Mourinho and Wenger say this is still an important game and neither of them can afford a demoralizing loss. For both sides, and for different reasons, it is all about momentum.
Since the season started the Gunners only lost two games, to Aston Villa and Borussia Dortmund. Surprisingly enough both happen at the Emirates. The side has been playing good football and is all fired up with expectation. Six months ago not many would foreseen Arsenal sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League. Arsenal have not won a trophy in eight years and now, for the first time since the 2007/08 run, they are being considered as potential title contenders. Sure, maybe now they see the chance of a championship trophy they are not so desperate for the League Cup. I grant them that. But still.
Next month will be a nightmare for the Gunners. They must play Chelsea and Liverpool – all in a week’s time – then travel to Borussia, Old Trafford and return home to host Southampton. No time to breathe, to prepare and hardly any to recover physical and mentally.
Arsène Wenger may look to rotate Ramsey and Ozil, giving Tomas Rosicky the chance to lead the Gunners midfield. He also selected Isaac Hayden. The 18-year-old received the Manager’s praise, stating that “everything he does is intelligent”. Nicklas Bedtner, Thomas Vermaelen and Fabianski may be the experienced supporters of youngsters like Ryo Miyaichi.
Probable lineup: Lukasz Fabiansky – Hayden, Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Monreal – Wilshire, Ramsey, Cazorla, Rosicky, Gnabry – Bendtner.
The Blues head into this fourth round of the Capital One Cup energized by that last minute thrilling 2-1 victory over Manchester City. They are now 2nd at the table with 20 points. They have been undefeated for the last eight matches. And every game the team is getting better, more confidant. Mourinho threatened to deploy an under-21 side in protest for the FA scheduling of the next Capital One Cup just 48 hours after the Manchester City clash. Arsenal played a day earlier with Crystal Palace, not exactly the same. He then backed down and said he would not use any of the starters of last Sunday’s game. That probably means it’s time for the likes of Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Samuel Eto’o and Juan Mata to come out from the bench and tutor some of the young development side’s talents. Fans are fostering the idea of seeing Jeremy Boga début for Chelsea’s first squad. Marco van Ginkel is absent due to serious knee injury.
Probable lineup: Mark Schwarzer – Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill, Bertrand – Obi Mikel, Michael Essien, William, Mata, De Bruyne – Eto’o.
This Tuesday, at the Emirates Stadium, the two teams that lead the Premier League will go head-to-head and both managers act dismissive of it. I understand the English Title takes precedent and that last weekend matches’ are weighting heavy on the players but hold on. Arsène Wenger truly wants a trophy to add to his legacy. And seriously, have you met José Mourinho?