Friday, April 20, 2018

Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal: Semi-final delicately poised after hard-fought London draw

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The Carabao Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Arsenal is finely poised after a goalless draw in the first-leg at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.

The hosts had the better of the chances but were not able to find a way past a stubborn Arsenal side who defended stoutly throughout the evening. Gunners stopper David Ospina was forced into numerous excellent saves and the result could well have been different had it not been for the interventions of the Colombian. The two sides though head to the Emirates Stadium in a fortnight’s time all-square.

Intriguing start at Stamford Bridge

Álvaro Morata was released in the first two minutes by Eden Hazard but could only prod his shot into the side netting from a tight angle. Alexandre Lacazette wasted an excellent opportunity for Arsenal as he was played through with an excellent chipped pass from Jack Wilshere. The French striker could only blast the ball high over the ball from inside the box.

Midfielder Victor Moses tested David Ospina as he cut in from the right-flank but the stopper collected, albeit at the second attempt. The Nigerian went close again as he waltzed past Ainsley Maitland-Niles and looked to fire into the near corner but Ospina dropped well to save.

Chances before the break

Alex Iwobi was then the next to carve out an opportunity. The youngster played a quick one-two with Danny Welbeck before unleashing a powerful effort from the edge of the box. Thibaut Courtois though dived well to deflect the ball away. Arsenal did have a penalty appeal with Iwobi falling to the floor following Moses’ challenge but VAR confirmed that no spot-kick was to be given.

Cesc Fàbregas should have opened the scoring in the closing minutes in the first-half as he connected with a deep cross from César Azpilicueta. The former Gunner could only put his header straight at Ospina though.

Another quick start from Conte’s men

Chelsea began the second period in fine form and could have been ahead as quick as two minutes after the break. Andreas Christensen was lurking at the back post from a corner and managed to reach an flick-on from Marcos Alonso but was unlucky to see his header whistle over the crossbar.

The Gunners were given a blow just after the break as skipper Jack Wilshere had to be withdrawn through injury. Chelsea nearly profited straight away as Morata out-muscled Shkodran Mustafi and raced towards goal. The Spanish striker could only find the side-netting as he liked for the near post.

Both sides cancel each other out

The chances continued to flow for the Blues throughout the second period. Moses unleashed a fierce drive but the ball was deflected away by Mustafi. From the resulting corner, Christensen again got free but could only loop his header over. Substitute Willian tried his luck from distance but Ospina again was equal to it and held well.

Fàbregas found space in the Arsenal penalty area and tried to cross but looked to be fouled by Danny Welbeck. The referee again referred to VAR but a spot-kick was not forthcoming for the hosts. The Spaniard was afforded yet more time in the Arsenal penalty area soon after and his cross took a deflection and struck the post, to the relief of the Gunners.

The Blues continued to probe within the final minutes but were not able to find a way past a stubborn rear-guard from Wenger’s men. As a result, the two teams head into the second-leg level.

Final Thoughts

It is sure going to be an intriguing affair in the second-leg at the Emirates Stadium. In honesty, the Blues dominated the tie but  did not possess the required ruthlessness to gain home advantage. Morata and Christensen in particular were wasteful and Antonio Conte will be disappointed that his side were not able to overcome their local rivals.

Arsenal though were dogged and despite not creating too much, were good value for the draw. It could be a tough test as the reigning Premier League champions travel to Arsenal in two weeks’ time.

Match Report

Chelsea: Courtois (6); Rüdiger (7), Christensen (6), Azpilicueta (7); Alonso (7), Fàbregas (7), Kanté (7), Drinkwater (6) (Willian (6), 68′), Moses (7); Hazard (7) (Bakayoko (N/A), 84′), Morata (5) (Batshuayi (N/A), 87′).

Arsenal: Ospina (8); Chambers (7), Mustafi (6), Holding (6); Bellerin (6), Xhaka (7), Wilshere (6) (Elneny (6), 57′), Maitland-Niles (7); Iwobi (6), Welbeck (7), Lacazette (5) (Sanchez (6), 66′).

Goals: N/A

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Yellow Cards: Xhaka (51′), Kanté (80′), Elneny (86′)

Red Cards: N/A

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Orme


Daniel is currently a second-year football journalism student at the University of Derby. He has been freelance writing for approximately four years now and brings considerable experience. A season ticket holder at local club Leicester City, he witnessed the Foxes miraculously lifting the Premier League trophy in the 2015/16 campaign.

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