Wednesday night sees Chelsea meet Arsenal for the second time in a week, which is just one of three encounters between the sides this month. They kick off their EFL Cup semi-final with the Gunners at Stamford Bridge, as they look to progress to Wembley. However, will the Blues be able to see off Arsenal following their dramatic draw at the Emirates last time out? Having the second leg in north London does make things difficult, especially if Antonio Conte isn’t taking this competition all that seriously – just as he did last season. Will he put that to one side going into Wednesday’s clash?
This is a competition that the Gunners could push for, especially as it’s one competition which Arsene Wenger has yet to win. Having already beaten Conte to lift the FA Cup last year, will this be another disappointment at the hands of the Frenchman? With the Premier League title already gone, this semi-final is pretty important for the Blues. Having enjoyed plenty of success in the League Cup during the Abramovich era, his could be some more silverware for the champions, providing they can navigate a path past Arsenal.
Team News: Will Conte Keep Weekend Changes for Gunners Clash?
The big question ahead of this clash is over Antonio Conte’s team selection. The Blues haven’t taken this competition seriously under the Italian’s stewardship, he’s tended to rotate in the cups since arriving at Stamford Bridge. The question is will he maintain that policy when the Gunners visit on Wednesday night. While he’s made changes to every side he’s named in this competition, we expect the Blues to bring back some of their top stars after the weekend’s FA Cup action. They need to get off to a flyer in the first leg ahead of their trip to the Emirates, so we’re backing them to go with a strong side in midweek.
The Gunners are in a similar boat, having rotated their side frequently throughout the season. They’ve rested their top stars in the Europa League, EFL Cup and FA Cup this season, preferring to push for the top four in the Premier League. Will they go for it now they’re in the semi-finals, or is this competition still a distraction for Wenger? The Frenchman has never really taken much interest in this competition, which is partly why they’ve never won it. They’re likely to stick with a weakened side in this one, as they look to secure a return to the Champions League.
The Gunners have hit a rough patch of form in the league, which has seen them drift five points off the Champions League spots. They’ve drawn three of their last four in the league, and they’ve been struggling to win matches. That’s certainly a concern coming into a cup semi-final. While they have a strong record against the Blues of late, they have work to do to turn their form around ahead of this game.
The Gunners have won just twice on the road since the start of November, claiming a controversial win at Burnley and a narrow victory against Crystal Palace. Can they add to that dismal run here? Given that they’ve won twice within 90 minutes in their last seven away trips in this competition, that doesn’t seem promising. The Gunners have been handed home ties through their run to the semis, which could hurt them in this tie.
Chelsea v Arsenal Head to Head
Meetings between Chelsea and Arsenal have been pretty frequent in recent times, they’ve met six times in the last 12 months. That includes an FA Cup final and a pre-season friendly. The draw between them last week was just the latest blow which Wenger has delivered to Conte in recent times, having beaten the Blues in the cup final and dishing out a 3-0 defeat in their meeting at the Emirates in late 2016.
- Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea Jan 2017
- Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal, Sept 2017
- Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea, Aug 2017
- Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea, May 2017
- Chelsea 3-1 Chelsea, Feb 2017
- Chelsea to win – 4/5 with Ladbrokes
- Chelsea to win and BTTS – 12/5 with Betfred
Chelsea head into the match as favourites for the points, priced up at 4/5 with Ladbrokes. The draw can be backed at 13/5 with Coral here, while the Gunners are slightly bigger at 14/5 with BetVictor. While the Blues are odds-on favourites, they have their work cut out to end their recent struggles against Arsenal. With games between the pair being so close in recent weeks, which of these two will be able to carve out an advantage and win this semi-final? Will Arsenal’s record of three wins and four defeats from 11 away league games play a part?
The Blues are more likely to name a full-strength side, and that could be the difference. They were already the better team in both league meetings this season, and Conte’s side have put together some strong form at Stamford Bridge. They were a solid display from Alvaro Morata away from a thumping win last week, and we expect better from the forward this week as the Blues look to pull off a first leg victory. While the recent meetings between these two have been close, we expect Chelsea’s home form mixed with Arsenal’s troubles away this term to swing this one in favour of the hosts. We’re backing a home win here at 4/5 with Ladbrokes.
In addition to that, the Blues have seen both teams score in four of their last five meetings with Arsenal, conceding in five of the last six encounters. We can see the visitors getting a goal in this one, which has us backing a Chelsea win and both teams to score. You can back a home victory and BTTS at 12/5 with Betfred ahead of this clash.