Chelsea Preview: A Good Chance to Rotate the Squad
After some grueling Premier League, Champions League and international football action, the Capital One Cup has taken center stage as the 16 teams left in the competition battle out to claim the crown last won emphatically by Swansea last season. Unfortunately, the Swans were ousted in the third round by Birmingham City which ensures that they won’t even have a chance to defend their crown.
Arsenal has been in a rich vein of form recently but there have been some dents along the way as Arsene Wenger’s men dropped two points to West Brom in the Premier League as well as dropping all three points at home to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
Arsene Wenger is renowned for fielding his young Guns in this tournament as a breeding ground to further enhance their football education but he selected a much-stronger side in last season’s quarterfinal against Bradford City but the Gunners were made to rue their profligacy as they lost through the lottery of penalty shootouts. However, Wenger has promised to field a relatively strong side tonight,
“I will rotate against Chelsea, but play with a team that has a good chance to qualify,
“It will be an interesting game. They have a very large squad so we will know we are playing another Premier League team, and on our side, we are at home. So it will be interesting.”
Arsenal has won the competition in two occasions (1987 and 1993) but in Arsene Wenger’s tenure, they’ve always reached the latter stages of the competition with two final defeats to Chelsea in 2007 and Birmingham City in 2011. Only two teams – Liverpool and Aston Villa – have won the tournament more than Chelsea, who have lifted the trophy on four occasions.
Chelsea’s manager, Jose Mourinho, is returning to the Emirates for the first time in six years and it’s also worth noting that Arsenal hasn’t won the West London outfit in close to two years with the Blues winning home and away against the Gunners in the league last season.
With Mourinho having the luxury of a large squad to choose from, I see the Portuguese manager offering starts to his African powerful midfield duo of Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel, two players that have found games had to come by this season. After his error of judgment against Cardiff that led to what proved to be a consolation goal, David Luiz has been frozen out of first team action and I see him making a return to on the pitch duty and he’d definitely have a point or two to prove.
With the plethora of attacking midfielders in Chelsea’s disposal, Mourinho could hand starts to the attacking midfield trio of Kevin de Bruyne, Juan Mata and the Brazilian’s representative in the Black Eyed Peas, Will.i.an. With Mourinho using a single center forward and with the likes of Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o getting a lot of playtime this season, Demba Ba could be given another chance to strut his stuff. It’s also worth noting that Arsenal was close on sealing an eleventh hour loan move for Ba but it was cancelled by Mourinho as he wasn’t ready to “strengthen a rival“.
At Arsenal, the injury worries keep piling up as Mathieu Flamini (groin) joins the treatment table with the likes of Theo Walcott (abdominal), Lukas Podolski (hamstring), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby (both knee) and like Mourinho, Arsene Wenger has a large squad to choose from while giving some key players like Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud some well-deserved rest.
Arsenal’s skipper, Thomas Vermaelen, has featured sparingly for the Gunners this season and this game will give him another chance to prove his worth to the squad. Nacho Monreal is another player that has lost his place in the team to the incumbent left fullback, Kieran Gibbs, but he has been used a lot as a substitute this season. In attack, the World’s Best Striker, Nicklas Bendtner, would be given another chance to show what he’s made of.
The youngsters like Carl Jenkinson and the exciting Serge Gnabry would be given run outs and its heartwarming to know that the young German winger has signed a new long term contract with Arsenal. I wonder why the Gunners are still wasting time in securing Bacary Sagna’s future as he’d be free to approach other clubs from January 1, 2014.
Here are my expected lineups for both sides,
Enjoy the game wherever you are.
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