If the football fans were expecting a repeat of the master class between both teams that was played out last week, they would definitely be disappointed by this cagey display. Arsenal had to deal with waves of pressure from a Chelsea team that had won 9 of their last 10 home games prior to this North London clash. But with all their dominance, they failed to find the back of the net with Morata missing a couple of chances and Lacazette extending his goal drought to eight games.
Morata had the first chance to open the scoring, but could only hit the side net from an angle on the left wing after being put through on goal by the lively Eden Hazard. The miss reminds us of the terrible game he had against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium just a week ago where he could have easily scored a hat-trick but instead squandered all his opportunities.
This was Arsene Wenger’s 21st Semi-Final tie as an Arsenal Manager. He has won 12 and lost 8 so far. The Carabao Cup remains the only local trophy the longest-serving manager in the Premier League history is yet to raise. And he faces an uphill task in other to achieve this as he first of all has to get past Chelsea before a potential final against the current EPL table-toppers Manchester City.
Victor Moses was next to shoot for goal as he was able to cut inside Maitland-Niles to drive a low shot at goal which Ospina was able to gather well at the second attempt thus preventing the Chelsea players from poking the ball into the net.
Alexandre Lacazette could only aim very wide off the post after being put through on goal by a very fine lobbed pass from Jack Wilshere. The French striker seems to be losing his touch in front of goal and will be growing increasingly frustrated with his lack of goals and adequate playing time in his new club.
Maitland-Niles who started his 3rd successive game for Arsenal for the first time was kept on his toes constantly by Victor Moses who was again able to beat him on the right wing and sent a low drive towards the post but for Ospina who got down and reacted quickly to parry the ball out which was eventually cleared by Calum Chambers.
Later on, a deep pass from Azpilicueta found Fabregas in the box but the latter couldn’t guide his header into the net, heading the ball straight to the grateful arms of Ospina in goal.
The first half saw Arsenal do more of the defending and Ospina was obviously the busier goalkeeper of the two with Chelsea taking a total of 8 shots with 3 on target while Arsenal could only manage just a shot on target. The second half was worse for Arsenal as Chelsea came out firing on all cylinders but sadly couldn’t get a goal to show for all the dominance.
Wenger brought in Alexis Sanchez in the second half amidst the transfer rumors going round that he might be close to signing a deal with Manchester City, and the Arsenal Manager has defended his decision and declared that he hopes to keep Alexis Sanchez past the end of January.
A sad one though for the Arsenal faithful was the injury to the captain of the night, Jack Wilshere. Jack had managed to stay fit for a while now and had filled in perfectly into the Gunners midfield after the injury to Ramsey before picking up an injury that looks like a hamstring pull. This just adds to the already troubling list of injuries to the Gunners first team players. The second leg of this fixture will be played at the Emirates Stadium on 24 January.
Arsenal Starting XI:
David Ospina; Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Jack Wilshere, Granit Xhaka, Hector Bellerin; Danny Welbeck, Alex Iwobi; Alexandre Lacazette.
Chelsea Starting XI:
Thibaut Courtois; Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger; Victor Moses, Danny Drinkwater, N’Golo Kante, Cesc Fabregas, Marcos Alonso; Eden Hazard; Alvaro Morata
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