It may not be the trip to Wembley everyone wanted, but a trip to Wembley is in fact on the line tomorrow (well, tomorrow-ish) as Arsenal wander down a bit south to take on Chelsea in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semifinal. The winner of this two legged affair will take on the winner of the Manchester City/Bristol City match, the first leg of which is today at the Etihad.
Arsenal come into this match looking like, well, pick your metaphor - a car with a busted axle? A bike with a flat tire? A person on crutches who just lost a crutch? A fish with a broken fin? I got a million of them, and those were actually the good ones. So I’ll stop now. Anyway, Arsenal aren’t great right now is the point. Sure, they’re unbeaten in five in the league, but three of those were draws, and the less said about the FA Cup the better.
The injury news isn’t really worse, but sadly, it also isn’t better. Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka are both subject to late fitness tests and appear doubtful, and nobody else has emerged from the injury barn or wherever they keep their broken players, so expect an even more patchwork-y lineup than we saw Sunday.
Chelsea will, meanwhile, have a pretty full squad to choose from, with the exception of new signing Ross Barkley, who, according to Antonio Conte, is match fit but “needs a bit of time to work on the physical and tactical aspects” of his Chelsea integration.
I hesitate to put “must win” on anything involving the League Cup, but from a morale perspective at least, this tie is something Arsenal could really use right now. Everyone says nobody gives a crap about the League Cup, but if Arsenal lose this tie after just falling out of the FA Cup, the already unbearable noise around the club will become even more so, which is annoying but the way the world seems to work. Things that don’t matter all of a sudden seem to matter more when they don’t happen as expected, right?
Anyway, how’s that for a pep talk? GO SPORTS!
Arsenal at Chelsea
Carabao Cup semi final, first leg
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
12PM PT/3PM ET/8PM BT
Stamford Bridge, London
US TV: ESPN2
US streaming: ESPN3, Watch ESPN, or whatever they’re calling it these days
Non-US: check with livesoccer.tv