Arsenal remained firm against Chelsea at Stamford Bride in the first leg of the Carabao Cup’s semi final. Despite being undefeated in their previous nine matches, the Pensioners saw their third draw in a row with this one.
Considering the recent form of Arsenal, the performance of the Gunners was highly appreciable. Their last win had come against Crystal Palace, after which they remained win-less in their previous three matches, including their humiliating 4-2 defeat against Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup. Yet Arsene Wenger’s side frustrated all the attempts of Chelsea to score and win the game. Even though Chelsea held the ball for most of the time with some very good opportunities for scoring coming in their path, yet no goal could be scored by the end of the time.
Conte’s side missed two very good chances; one was missed by Fàbregas in the first half, while the second was by Christensen in the second half. Both were very close headers which could easily have been converted into goals.
The VAR system was used in this match, which is only the second time in English football. Atkinson made use of it twice only to confirm the original decision of his; one used when Victor Moses challenged on Ainsley Maitland-Niles and later when Fàbregas appeared to be tripped by Danny Welbeck.
For this match against Arsenal, Conte had brought Eden Hazard (recovered from calf injury), Thibaut Courtois and N’Golo Kante who were missing in the match against Norwich City in the third round of the FA Cup.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was serving his touchline ban and watching the match from the press box. When Alvaro Morata had come close to scoring from the pass of Hazard, he was visibly shifting uneasily in his seats. He had made the surprising decision of leaving Alex Sanchez on the bench about whom there are speculations that he might join Manchester City. The other main player Mesut Ozil was not playing due to his knee injury.
Overall, the Chelsea team kept possession for longer period, yet they could take any lead. Even they had 21 shots for scoring from which only 6 were on target, a far higher number than Arsenal’s just eight shots.
After the match, Antonio Conte said:
“We tried with all our strength to win the game. We created chances to score but a few times we were not so clinical.”
Their next match will be against Leicester City. While their big match against Barcelona is also coming up very soon, therefore Conte might want to shift his focus over there as well. However, getting back to winning ways after three draws will be the immediate concern of the Arsenal manager.
Currently, they are placed at the third position in the League table after getting 46 points from 22 matches, one point behind United but 16 points behind Manchester City. So far this season, they have won fourteen matches and suffered four defeats while drawing four as well.