The Breakdown

The Breakdown: Chelsea v Arsenal preview

We’re back in Carabao Cup action on Wednesday night when we travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in our semi-final first leg.

Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox examine our opponents in more detail.


Arsene Wenger is now well-accustomed to facing a Chelsea side with Antonio Conte as manager. Since being appointed 18 months ago, there’s been a 3-0 home victory in the league, a 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge, a 2-1 Emirates FA Cup final victory, a Community Shield game settled on penalties in Arsenal’s favour, then 0-0 and 2-2 draws in the league this season. Wenger has the edge so far.


Conte famously switched to a 3-4-3 after last season’s 3-0 defeat at the Emirates, but towards the end of last season opponents started to become wiser to it. This season, therefore, Conte has often used a 3-5-2 system which has allowed Cesc Fabregas more opportunities, and more positional freedom.


Chelsea’s three-man defence remains very solid, despite Conte making more changes than last season. Andreas Christensen has replaced David Luiz as first choice, and plays excellently as a spare man. 


He might not be Chelsea’s star man, but left wing-back Marcos Alonso seems to cause Arsenal problems, having opened the scoring at Stamford Bridge last season and also netting in the recent 2-2 draw at the Emirates. His clashes with Hector Bellerin, who lacks Alonso’s height but offers more speed, could be crucial.


Left-sided centre-back Gary Cahill sometimes looks short of speed when forced to cover the space towards the touchlines – if Arsenal can attack into that channel, they may find some joy.

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