Arsenal can start their post-Alexis Sanchez era with a narrow victory against Chelsea as they step up their attempt to win the League Cup for only the third time.
The Chilean finally moved to Manchester United on Monday but his departure could lead to there being more harmony in the Gunners squad as he was clearly below-par in the first half of the campaign after his proposed summer switch to Manchester City broke down.
The two London rivals have already played each other twice in January with the first leg of the semi-final at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago ending in a drab goalless draw, while the two teams shared four goals in a thrilling Premier League encounter at the Emirates Stadium.
In September, Chelsea were held to a goalless draw by Arsenal on home soil in the league, while Arsene Wenger’s team edged to victory on penalties in the Community Shield at Wembley after yet another draw, so it seems highly likely that Wednesday’s match will once again be tight.
Arsenal are good value at 37/4 to win the second leg 1-0 and 11/4 to keep a clean sheet in the match. Wenger opted to play a weakened side in the first leg but may choose a stronger line-up on Wednesday as he once again attempts to placate a section of the Gunners faithful who remain restless after another inconsistent campaign.
Both teams are aiming to reach their eighth League Cup final, although Chelsea have lifted the trophy five times compared with Arsenal’s two – with the Gunners’ last triumph coming in 1993 when they beat Sheffield Wednesday.
Arsenal have been far better at home than away this term, while Antonio Conte’s side struggled since the turn of the year until thrashing Brighton 4-0 on Saturday.
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