Arsenal will take on Chelsea at the Emirates on Tuesday night in the Capital One Cup tie where top two teams of England at the moment will lock horns against each other. And of course, needless to say (cup romance & all that) it promises to be a cracker.
Both the managers will be looking to make few changes for this particular tie. Arsenal especially will be looking to give rest to some of their stars, keeping in mind their upcoming league encounter with Liverpool. Here are four key battles we can expect from this match.
Arsenal Full Backs – Chelsea Wingers
Arsene Wenger probably will give rests to left back Gibbs and right back Sagna. Which means able deputies Carl Jenkinson and Nacho Monreal could be used for this one. It will be interesting to see, how they perform against quick and tricky wingers like Andre Schurrle, Willian or Kevin De Bruyne, whoever Jose Mourinho deploys.
Arsenal will miss a solid defensive midfielder for this game as both Flamini and Arteta are missing out. So, Jack Wilshere probably will be asked to play a more defensive role alongside Aaron Ramsey. Both the players are naturally attacking minded, so it will be interesting to see how compact they remain throughout the game. Chelsea on the other hand may have an advantage in enjoying more possession in the middle, especially in presence of John Obi Mikel.
Chelsea are certain to start without Fernando Torres. The Spaniard was sensational against Manchester City and Mourinho could either give him complete rest or use him from the bench. So, in his place, either of Samuel Eto’o or Demba Ba would start. But, will they pose enough threat to Arsenal defence?
Likewise, Wenger won’t take the risk of playing his only lone striker Olivier Giroud for this game, so Nicklas Bendtner could start. The Denmark international did well against West Brom, however, it remains to be seen, how effective he will be against the likes of Cahill and Luiz.
And finally, the psychological battle
London derby. Knock out competition. League leaders against second placed team. Both are genuine title contenders. All these factors boils down to a thrilling sub-plot for this tie. Whoever wins the fixture, will gain a psychological advantage over their rivals. From Arsenal’s point of view, they’ve got a series of tough fixtures from here on, starting with this. A victory here will add tremendous confidence to their burgeoning progress.
Prediction: Both the teams are evenly matched and likewise the confidence is equally high in both the camps. Chelsea with a better squad depth probably holds an upper hand here. 1-2 for the Blues.