Next Race Newspaper
Free Bets
My Account

Friday, 14 December, 2018

Ozil's presence could make the difference for Arsenal

Chelsea may show signs of fatigue after busy period

Alexandre Lacazette celebrates with Arsenal teammates against Crystal Palace
1 of 1

League Cup semi-final second leg
Sky Sports Football & Main Event, 7.45pm Wednesday

Arsenal have won the FA Cup three times in the last four years and can set up another trip to Wembley by beating Chelsea in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final.

There has been nothing to choose between the teams in three drawn meetings this season but the markets favour the Blues, who are odds-on to go through.

Both teams could take positives out of the 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago.

Chelsea kept a clean sheet, putting them in a position where a score draw in the second leg (after extra-time) will be enough to reach the final.

But Arsenal were probably happier with the outcome given they went into the match without injured playmaker Mesut Ozil.

The German has been outstanding in recent weeks and supplied a sumptuous assist for Alexandre Lacazette in Saturday's 4-1 victory at home to Crystal Palace.

Arsenal went into the Palace game under a lot of pressure following their poor performance in a 2-1 loss at Bournemouth the previous weekend. But they flew out of the traps and were four goals to the good after just 22 minutes.

There were numerous positives to take out of the Palace game.

Jack Wilshere was at his creative best in midfield, Lacazette ended a nine-match goalscoring drought and Nacho Monreal was involved in three goals (scoring one and setting up two) on his return from injury.

The downside was Monreal limping off after taking a knock.

Consequently the Spaniard is a fitness doubt to face Chelsea, although Ainsley Maitland-Niles has shown himself to be an able deputy at left back and, overall, the Gunners look in better shape than they were before competing in west London two weeks ago.

Chelsea have had a mixed time since the first match.

They laboured to a 0-0 stalemate at home to Leicester and needed a penalty shootout to see off Norwich in an FA Cup third-round replay after drawing 1-1 at Stamford Bridge.

However, they won 4-0 at Brighton on Saturday despite going into the match without suspended duo Pedro and Alvaro Morata and injury victims Thibaut Courtois, Cesc Fabregas, Gary Cahill and Danny Drinkwater.

Eden Hazard starred against the Seagulls with two well taken goals but is was not as straightforward as the score suggests with Brighton hitting the woodwork and having two strong penalty appeals turned down.

Chelsea were not in control until the third goal went in and there were still a few signs of the tiredness on display during the Leicester and Norwich matches.

The match at Arsenal will be Chelsea's seventh in 22 days and could be a game too far for some of Conte's players.

Arsenal's 2018 schedule has also been busy but they looked refreshed against Palace, perhaps benefiting from their first free midweek since December.

Wenger will be looking for another high-tempo performance and it may be enough to see the Gunners through to a fourth domestic final in five years.

1pt 2-1 bet365, Betfred

Bet on this match at

Team news
Nacho Monreal and Aaron Ramsey face fitness tests and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is cup-tied. Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck are sidelined.

Thibaut Courtois, Danny Drinkwater, Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas missed the 4-0 win at Brighton with minor injuries. Cahill, Drinkwater and Courtois return to contention but Fabregas (hamstring) and Alvaro Morata (back) are injured. Andreas Christensen (head) is expected to play.

Key stat
Arsenal have lost one of their last 25 home matches.

Today's top sports betting stories

Follow us on Twitter @racingpostsport

Like us on Facebook RacingPostSport 

There has been nothing to choose between the teams in three meetings this season
E.W. Terms
Sky bet