Arsenal v Chelsea

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Press conference

Team news: Ramsey, Monreal, Welbeck, Giroud

Arsene Wenger has provided the latest team news ahead of Wednesday's Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea.

The Arsenal manager revealed the latest on Aaron Ramsey, Nacho Monreal, Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck.

This is what he said:

on Mkhitaryan being cup-tied and the latest team news…
No [he's not available]. We might have Ramsey back in the squad - he has a test today. After that, we have the uncertainty over Nacho Monreal who came off during the game against Crystal Palace. Hopefully he will be available. He has a test this morning as well.

on Giroud and Welbeck…
Olivier Giroud’s a fraction short. Danny Welbeck is a fraction short as well.

Pre-Match Report

Arsenal v Chelsea: The Brief

When the full-time whistle blew at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, it was hard to assess who the goalless draw in our Carabao Cup semi-final first leg favoured. Was it the hosts, who had not conceded an away goal, or us, who will host the decider at Emirates Stadium with no deficit to recover?

We'll find out this evening, in our fifth encounter with the Blues in a little over five months. None of the previous four matches were settled in 90 minutes - although we did win the Community Shield on penalties - and it is hard to imagine anything other than another fiercely-contested clash between two evenly-matched sides.
 
With the Alexis/Mkhitarayan saga having finally reached its conclusion, it is good to turn the focus back to on-pitch matters - and although our new signing is not eligible to play, his team-mates will be desperate to seal yet another trip to Wembley, to face Manchester City in the final on February 25.
 
Read on for a comprehensive pre-match briefing: we’ve got classic goals against Chelsea, team news, an exclusive chat with the manager, match facts, graphics and a chance to have your say.


A FAMILAR FOE

Wenger on facing Chelsea for the fifth time this season...
“If you include the friendly we played in China on top of that, it’s a fact that we know each other very well. It’s very difficult to surprise your opponent. You even know the response you will get from the bench during the game. They certainly know as well, so overall I would say it puts it down to the form of the day, and down as well to how [high] your motivation is on the day, how much you want it. It will be down to that."

Arsène Wenger on Mohamed Elneny

TEAM NEWS

ARSENAL: Cazorla (ankle), Giroud (hamstring), Welbeck (hip), Monreal (hamstring)
 
CHELSEA: Morata (back), Christensen (head - doubt), Courtois (ankle - doubt), Drinkwater (ankle - doubt), Cahill (hamstring - doubt), Fabregas (hamstring) 

THE OPPOSITION

Tactical expert Michael Cox:
“Peculiarly, Chelsea's greatest source of creativity this season has been right-sided centre back Cesar Azpilicueta, who has assisted Alvaro Morata no fewer than six times by pushing forward into more advanced positions, and then curling crosses from narrow positions into his compatriot. Morata may be out, but Azpilicueta may attempt the same passes."


THE LAST WORD

Wenger on how he assesses the tie after the first leg…
“The tie at Stamford Bridge was like the first game of qualifying in the semi-final - that means let’s at least be in the game for the second leg. That was what it was about. It was a bit of a ‘block’ game. You could see a completely different game this time. That’s why for us it’s very important that we start well and take advantage of what we have done against Crystal Palace. That means being on the front foot from the start. Certainly in the second game they will try to attack, we will try to attack, so it should be a much more open game." 

Matchday Show: Chelsea (h) - Carabao Cup

Interview

‘Jack plays with risk… but rarely loses the ball'

They’ve started each of our last eight Premier League matches together - and Granit Xhaka feels it’s “a big honour” to play alongside Jack Wilshere.

The duo played slightly further forward against Crystal Palace on Saturday, with Mohamed Elneny operating at the base of midfield. So how would Xhaka assess his partnership with Wilshere?  

“Yeah, I think it works well, and you’ve seen that in the last games,” he told Arsenal Player. “Sadly we haven’t had the results that we wanted but I’m pleased to play on the same side as someone like Jack, who has such qualities.

 “He’s someone who plays with an element of risk, who carries the ball, who rarely loses the ball. You can learn a lot from him.

 “Jack’s always had a big name, even as a young player, when he was really pushed through and many people were talking about him. 

“The first time I played against Jack was at Wembley, against England. Even back then, he caught my eye. To play next to him now is a big honour.”

Gallery

First team train ahead of Carabao Cup semi-final

Aaron Ramsey

New signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan joined in with his first session as our squad trained for the final time ahead of Wednesday's Carabao Cup semi-final second-leg tie against Chelsea.

Aaron Ramsey was also among those in training after Arsène Wenger confirmed the Wales midfielder could return to action against the Blues at Emirates Stadium.

Our club photographer was at London Colney on Tuesday morning and sent back these pictures: 

Press conference

'Mkhitaryan knows how to fight at the top level'

Arsene Wenger is clearly excited about the prospect of working with Henrikh Mkhitaryan - and says his challenge is to get the Armenian to "express his talent".

The former Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund playmaker will have his first training session at the club on Tuesday, and beforehand the boss had this to say about him:

on his reaction to the Mkhitaryan/Alexis swap…
We lose a world-class player and we gain a world-class player. How efficient will that be? That will be down to the performances of both players. Mkhitaryan has the qualities to integrate into our game and that is based a lot on movement and technical quality. I think he has the attributes, a good team attitude as well and I’m confident that it will work. He can play in all kinds of positions - on the flanks and he can play through the middle as well. I think he’s very versatile and it should help us to be very efficient going forward.

on what Mkhitaryan will bring to the front line…
I would say quality of runs, quality of creativity, and he can be very penetrating with his passing and his runs. Also technical stability in our team and experience as well. He knows what it is to fight at the top level.

on whether he is confident he can get the best out of Mkhitaryan…
I hope, yes. I have no doubt about his attitude, his commitment, his desire to do well. He suffered a little bit maybe from the competition he had there and overall that is his challenge. My challenge is to get him to express his talent completely, that we know is absolutely right because he has done extremely well, so he has a new challenge that we want to help him be successful in.

on whether Mkhitaryan’s time with Manchester United affected his confidence…
I don’t know that very well, I will know much more about that in the next two to three weeks.

on whether he will go straight into the team…
That depends first of all on the team performances and on his own fitness and performances in training as well.

on whether he can play alongside Mesut Ozil…
They can play together as well, of course.

Press conference

How does the boss feel about Alexis' departure?

Arsene Wenger has been asked about Alexis' future all season - and he made his final remarks on it in Tuesday's press conference.

The Chile international has completed his move to Manchester United, and his former manager had this to say:

on why Alexis left Arsenal…
I said here that he’s 29 years old going on to 30 in 2018, and that is was maybe his last contract. Of course the financial aspect is important. He could combine both. I think he’s going to a great club and he gets a great contract, so you can understand that a professional player can combine both aspects.

on if he’s worried other players could go for money over footballing ambition…
Alexis combined both. At the end of the day, we are a serious football club who have responsibilities and we want to spend the money we can afford. The maximum we can afford, we do, but as well you have some decisions to make at some stage - are you responsible in your management or not? If you cannot afford, you have to say ‘No, sorry, can’t do that’.

on whether Alexis had agreed a deal to stay at Arsenal at some point…
Look, I don’t want to come back on the history of his negotiations, but maybe one day. Alexis is a great guy and has always been committed, did the negotiations go well or not well? It has never affected him and I would just like to remind you I took him to the hotel on the night before the Crystal Palace game and he was completely focused and ready to play the next day until I told him, look you can go home, the deal is over the line. So, that’s what he did. No matter how the negotiations went he was always focused on football.

on whether his smile means a deal was agreed at some point…
You can interpret my smile, you know me well enough for years, so I leave you free to do that.

on whether he looks at Alexis’ interview at Manchester United and takes what he said with a pinch of salt…
Maybe it’s true, I have no problem with that, but Alexis is a professional player and he is a guy who loves football. When he is on a football pitch he has given he maximum for Arsenal and he will do the same for Manchester United. He was before at Barcelona, you know they are not small clubs, he has been at big clubs and he knows that at big clubs to survive you have to give absolutely your best.

Press conference

Wenger on Aubameyang, Giroud, Welbeck, transfers

With just over a week of the January window remaining, there is plenty of speculation about transfers doing the rounds.

Arsene Wenger was asked what the latest was in his press conference on Tuesday and this is what he had to say:

on how confident he is about bringing in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang…
Confident or not confident? I don’t know. At the moment, we are not close to doing any deal, whether it’s Aubameyang or anyone else.

on whether he’d be prepared to allow Giroud to go the other way…
The negotiations are not as far as that.

on how close the negotiations are…
You never know how close they are. These are the kind of things that, at the moment, are one of the possible movements. We have other things in mind as well and we have plenty of opportunities in different positions. The final decision is not made.

on Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan being able to link up…
You look at players and what their qualities are, what they can give to the team. When they are good players, they can always play together.

on reports linking Danny Welbeck with Besiktas…
No, I want Danny Welbeck to stay here.
 
on if other business will be loans in and out…
It depends on the opportunities we have. We can buy players. We are busy on all fronts, so overall I think we are open-minded. Every opportunity we have to strengthen our squad, we’ll take. If people want to buy some of our players, we have [examined that] - players who have less chances to play, we have done it, who deserve to play because they are great players, who have left us. After that, we’ll see at the end. There’s still a lot that will happen as usual on the transfer market.
 
on whether he sees swap deals as the future…
It could happen more yes, because the transfer prices are very high and we are as well in the position where the player had no value in three to four months, so that is of course important in our decision as well.

on the money league and us finishing fifth in terms of revenue - but spending less in terms of recruitment than everyone in top 10…
Yes of course, but you have not to forget that we have as well financial restrictions form the banks because we have built the stadium. it is important, we have to respect the financial plan. As you said, we work very hard to become richer [and] we achieve it. After that, we have to spend the money in the most intelligent way we can on the transfer market that has become ab it out of control. I believe as well, despite all the financial superpowers that we have in the league and in Europe now, I believe it’s very important that we keep the basis of our focus on getting people out [developing players] from inside the club. I’m convinced that the way the football is going, it’s maybe not only to buy players with huge amounts of money, but have players in your team who care about your club, have a sense of belonging and a pride of belonging to the club. I would rather encourage a club to push more on the quality of our youth work, which we are doing, than go into a way where it’s only about millions and not so much about values.

on if he’s worried by some saying we are a ‘selling club’…
No, I’m not worried about that. When the players get to a certain age and they want to go, you have to respect that as well. As I said, all these players had a short contract to go. At some stage, you have to make a decision - do you commit for four years or not at an age where you have to think about it.

Press conference

'This match will certainly be more open'

In the aftermath of our Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge, no one seemed quite sure who the goalless draw suited more.

Arsene Wenger admits the tie is finely-poised ahead of Wednesday's decider, and this is what he told the press conference:
 
on the importance of Wednesday’s game…
It’s an important game and we want to go to the final. We have an opportunity to do it at home against Chelsea. I think the two teams know each other very well. The first leg was very blocked, the second leg will certainly be more open, because at some stage, the teams will have to open up to try to win the game. It should be much more spectacular than the first one.

on knowing how to play Chelsea now...
You’re always cautious to say that because I think the two teams are very close to each other every time they meet and the form of the day can be a decider. The strength of the motivation on the day can be a decider as well. It has always been very tight, they are two good teams, who know each other very well now, so it’s very difficult, it’s very unpredictable.
 
on whether Arsenal are favourites against Chelsea…

Honestly, I don’t see any favourite in that tie. If you look, as we just spoke about, in the last seven games it’s always very tight, so what you could say is that what comes out is no real favourite, but we are at home and we feel strong at home and so we want to take advantage of it.

on using academy products in the side…
Don’t forget Iwobi, Bellerin, we are the only team who plays with four to five players in the starting line up with players who came out of the club.

on whether it is hard for managers to trust youth products…
I mean, if you look at the instability now in the Premier League, it doesn’t encourage managers to take gambles with young players and when they make their team on Friday night they will go more for security and security is experience, than to give a chance to young players.

Goals

Check out our best goals at home to Chelsea

We return to Carabao Cup action on Wednesday when we host Chelsea in our semi-final second-leg tie at Emirates Stadium.

We’ve scored some memorable goals against the Blues over the years, from Lee Dixon’s 25-yard rocket to Jack Wilshere’s thunderbolt in this season’s Premier League fixture. 

But which was your favourite? Watch our top five above and then make sure you vote below:

Matchday Show

Follow our semi-final against Chelsea game LIVE

Matchday Show: Chelsea (h) - Carabao Cup

We’re back in Carabao Cup action against Chelsea on Wednesday evening - and you can follow the second-leg tie LIVE on Arsenal.com.

Tune in to our website for the following:

  • Matchday Show, with live build-up from 7.30pm (UK time) and audio commentary from 8pm (UK time)
  • Live text commentary - featuring minute-by-minute updates and insights from our fans on Twitter
  • A short goals clip and full match highlights will be available from midnight on Wednesday

It's all free with Digital Membership - and remember, you can listen on the Arsenal App too!

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