Alvaro Morata and Cesc Fabregas will be missing for Chelsea when they travel to Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg, with the tie level at 0-0.
Chelsea go into the vital clash having beaten Brighton 4-0 at the Amex Stadium on Saturday, while Arsenal are coming off the back of a 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace after a disappointing few weeks for both sides.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is predicting a tight game at the Emirates, after a stuffy affair at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago.
Wenger said: “It’s an important game and we want to go to the final. We have an opportunity to do it at home against Chelsea. I think the two teams know each other very well.
“The first leg was very blocked, the second leg will certainly be more open, because at some stage, the teams will have to open up to try to win the game. It should be much more spectacular than the first one.”
Striker Morata will be missing for Chelsea with a back injury, while Fabregas has a hamstring problem.
Andreas Christensen is available to play after his head injury, while captain Gary Cahill, midfielder Danny Drinkwater and Thibaut Courtois are set to be fit for the second leg.
New signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan is cup-tied for Arsenal after appearing in the quarter-finals for his former club Manchester United against Bristol City.
Aaron Ramsey (illness) and Nacho Monreal (leg) will be given every chance to be involved but Olivier Giroud (hamstring) and Danny Welbeck (groin) will definitely miss out for Wenger’s side.
This will be the fifth meeting in all competitions between the two sides this season – the third time they’ve met five times in a single campaign and first since 2003-04 (also 1946-47).
Indeed, the last time two top-flight clubs drew five games against each other in a single season was Arsenal versus Liverpool back in 1979-80. In fact, the only other occasion that this happened involved Chelsea (versus Burnley in 1955-56).
After failing to reach the final in five of their first six League Cup semi-finals in which they failed to win the first leg, the Gunners have progressed from two of the last three (2006-07 vs Spurs & 2010-11 vs Ipswich).
Chelsea have lost just once in their last eight away games versus Arsenal in all competitions (W3 D4 L1).
Arsenal and Chelsea have both made the League Cup final on seven previous occasions – only four teams have reached the final more times (Liverpool 12, Man Utd 9, Aston Villa 8, Spurs 8).
Arsene Wenger has reached the League Cup final twice as Arsenal manager (2007 and 2011), but it remains the only domestic trophy he’s not won with the Gunners.
Well let’s be fair to Arsenal, with a so-called weakened team at the weekend, they played really well, especially in that opening 25-minute spell, with Mesut Ozil controlling the game.
Also with key players missing, Chelsea were brilliant at the start and then end of their win over Brighton, with Eden Hazard producing some magical moments.
The big question is whether Arsenal can defend. They’ve done it in the two meetings at Stamford Bridge this season, where they looked to suffocate Chelsea, but at the Emirates it was very different, when they conceded twice and Alvaro Morata should have had a hat full.
How do you keep Hazard quiet? I don’t think you can really try to at home without having a negative mentality, and I think Arsene Wenger will go with a similar side to Saturday with Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere giving us a bit more control of the midfield.
I’m really looking forward to sitting back and watching this game, just like I was with Liverpool v Manchester City, and I think it will be an exciting encounter, but I fear Hazard will hand out the decisive punishment.
Charlie predicts: 2-3 and Hazard to score first – 85/1 with Sky Bet
Arsenal are Sky Bet’s 15/8 outsiders despite home advantage for the evenly-poised second-leg, with Chelsea 7/5 to win within 90 minutes and odds-on to reach the final, while a fifth draw of the season between the two sides is a 5/2 chance.
Eden Hazard heads the first goalscorer betting at 4/1 followed by Alexandre Lacazette at 5/1, while the Blues are enhanced from 33/1 to 50/1 to win the tie in another penalty shoot-out in Sky Bet’s Price Boosts.
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