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Arsenal to face Chelsea in Carabao Cup semifinal

London rivals stand in the way of a shot at silverware.

Bristol City v Manchester United - Carabao Cup Quarter-Final
There’s nothing like a little “cup magic,” is there?
Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Arsenal have drawn Chelsea in the semifinals of the Carabao Cup. The matches of the two-legged tie take place on January 8th at Stamford Bridge, and on the 22nd at the Emirates. The other semifinal is Manchester City against Bristol City, who upset Manchester United earlier today.

Thus far, Arsenal have faced lesser opponents in the competition, and the second team players have gotten the job done. But Chelsea is another story. The Blues’ second team is every bit as good as (and maybe better than) the Gunners’ cup lineup. With a trip to a cup final on the line, will Arsene Wenger deploy some of his first team players?

Poll

Should Arsenal move away from its "cup lineup" for the semifinals?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Yes
    (64 votes)
  • 35%
    No
    (53 votes)
  • 22%
    I don’t care.
    (34 votes)
151 votes total Vote Now

As fellow TSF writer Brandon Johnson says, the Carabao Cup is the ultimate “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” competition. It is the least prestigious of the competitions in which Arsenal participate, but it’s still a chance at silverware. If Wenger puts out a weaker lineup and the team loses, he and Arsenal “don’t want to win” and “lack ambition.” If he uses his top players, he “doesn’t rotate his squad properly” and risks them getting injured for “no good reason” (see e.g. Olivier Giroud).

Whatever your thoughts on how Arsenal should approach the tie may be, this semifinal presents another opportunity for some of the club’s younger players to get meaningful matches, and that’s a good “problem” to have.