We had to beat Manchester City and Chelsea to lift the Emirates Cup last year. And we’ll probably have to beat Chelsea and Manchester City to lift the Carabao Cup this year.
It’s an immense task but eminently doable on the evidence of 2017. And although our Stamford Bridge record leaves a little to be desired, our recent history against Chelsea bodes well.
Last week’s Premier League thriller was Arsene Wenger’s sixth encounter with Antonio Conte - and he’s lost just one.
Draws have been the norm and the boss would probably sign for another 2-2 with a second leg to come at Emirates Stadium.
You’re in the right place for a comprehensive pre-match briefing ahead of our semi-final first leg. Watch some classic goals, hear from the boss, get the latest team news and test your Carabao Cup knowledge.
ONE TO WATCH… ‘XHAKA WILSHERE’
“They work very well together,” said the boss, “especially with the ball, where they have a good understanding.
“The fluidity of their game is very good and the partnership grows defensively. That’s a very important part because we are a very offensive team. Defensively we need to be very sound and that’s as well why I play with three centre backs, because in midfield we are quite offensive. But they are tactically intelligent, aware and they want to sort out the problems defensively and tactically. I think that will improve.
“They sort out problems on the pitch by getting used to each other. On the football pitch you know quickly what the strengths of your partner are - where he goes, what he will do when he closes down. You adapt to that. The fact that they play together every week will help as well.
“I like to have a balanced team with left-footed and right-footed players, but it doesn’t give us a problem that Granit and Jack are both left-footed. Jack played many times on the right side when he was a kid, so he is comfortable to play on the right. You develop your vision from the early position in your life, so the right and the left is natural for him.”
CHELSEA: Hazard (calf - doubt)
ARSENAL: Ramsey, Giroud (both hamstring), Monreal, Kolasinac (both ankle), Koscielny (Achilles), Cazorla (plantaris)
Tactical expert Michael Cox on Chelsea:
"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 netted 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.”
THE FINAL WORD… ON A DIFFERENT VIEW
“Personally I see more disadvantages of watching from the stands,” said the boss. “Of course the vision is better but the action you can have is of course limited. Overall I’m separated so much physically and I feel a bit unwell because I’ve been for so long so close to the players and suddenly I feel the distance has a handicap and a frustration.
“In the past I watched the first half from the stands and went down in the second half. But after a while, you need that attachment to the team, to be as close as possible to the players. I gave up [watching games from upstairs]. Away from home, it was much more difficult to go to the stands, so I decided to stay down.”
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