Arsenal Need EFL Cup Win Far More Than Chelsea
Oh to be an Arsenal fan. A rollercoaster ride barely does it justice, what with seemingly never-ending underachievement in the Premier League and consistent failure in Europe.
Still, there was always the FA Cup. Winners of the competition in the three of the past four seasons, the Gunners could be relied upon to send their fans into the summer with a smile on their face.
Not in 2018, with Nottingham Forest dispatching Arsene Wenger’s second-string XI to end any prospect of another FA Cup win.
The season is far from over for the Gunners, but it’s not panning out quite as hoped. The Premier League aim is a top-four finish, while a second route into the Champions League is also open to them via victory in the Europa League.
Before all that, though, a chance to secure some silverware is in their grasp via the EFL Cup. It’s not a competition Wenger has given much attention to down the years, but the Gunners have reached the semi-final stage – where they will face Chelsea over two legs.
So how much focus will Wenger give it? Well, after the shock FA Cup exit it may have to be more than he was anticipating.
After sending out a fringe side to lose at the hands of Nottingham Forest, Wenger may have to throw some big names at the EFL Cup. The Frenchman’s Chelsea counterpart Antonio Conte has also used the competition to give playing time to some who have struggled for minutes in the league, but we’re now at the semi-final stage and the team sheets at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday will make for interesting reading.
Although Chelsea have come up short in the defence of the Premier League title, which is heading to Manchester City, Conte has other battles to focus on and the EFL Cup has greater significance for Wenger.
Will Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, players who could easily be sold in this January’s transfer window, be given the green light to play? Will Jack Wilshere, who has cemented a place in the Premier League XI after being restricted to EFL Cup and Europa League appearances earlier in the season, be risked?
The array of intriguing questions makes it a poser for the market makers as well. 188BET favour Chelsea to triumph in Wednesday’s game, with the Blues priced up at 1.77 (Arsenal are 4.35 and the draw 3.95), as well as the overall market – with Chelsea odds-on chances to progress to Wembley, with 188BET pricing Conte’s men at 1.65 compared to the Gunners at 2.36.
Wenger is never far from having fans calling for his head; ArsenalFanTV have made a living out of bashing the Frenchman, but you get the feeling things will intensify if Chelsea send them packing from the EFL Cup.
Life as an Arsenal fans is never dull, but not always easy.
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