Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0

For the third time this season, Arsenal and Chelsea played out a draw, and this one was the exact result replica from when the two sides met here in the Premier League. One week ago at the Emirates stadium, Arsenal and Chelsea produced an entertaining 2-2 draw and goals were certainly expected in this Carabao Cup semi-final first leg. Both David Ospina and Thibaut Courtois were hardly given a thorough examination on the night, although there were four calls for the VAR system, all of which were declined for respective penalty decisions. Chelsea were kept out by some excellent defence from the Gunners, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Shkodran Mustafi and Calum Chambers in particular rising to the occasion. Cesc Fabregas had the Blues best chance of the first half, but headed at Ospina. The Columbian did well to deny Alvaro Morata , Andreas Christensen and Victor Moses, with Alexandre Lacaztte blazing over the bar when a composed finish was needed. Jack Wilshere was indomitable in midfield, given the captain’s armband for the night, his ankle injury was the last thing he needed. Mohamed Elneny replaced Wilshere on 57 minutes.

Arsene Wenger revealed later that Wilshere suffered an ankle sprain having been hit by the ball as Danny Drinkwater blasted a clearance. On the night, Wenger was pleased for this side’s reaction following their FA Cup 3rd round humbling at Nottingham Forest.

” I felt it was a game that was very intense physically, that was locked as well because the two teams were well organised and defended well. You could see it was the first leg of a decisive tie and overall I must say we had a great solidarity, spirit in the side and overall it was a deserved 0-0, ” said Wenger.

” We couldn’t score in the last 20 minutes there, where there were opportunities that we didn’t use well, but overall we now have a job to do at home and we will do it. We have played Chelsea so many times that the two teams know each other very well and that’s why when the two teams decide to block the game, they can do it,” he continued.

Wenger was quizzed on why he chose to name Alexis Sanchez as a substitute and what was the reaction of his Chile striker to that decision. Wenger declined to offer an explanation but alluded to Alexis not being happy, however the Arsenal boss pointed to his 20 minute cameo role with quality play which almost saw the Gunners get an advantage on the tie. Talk continued over any link to Manchester City, this was batted straight back, while Wenger accepted that he was powerless to stop Alexis speaking to any European clubs expressing an interest in him. How did we get here? It’s not good, however a side shorn of not only Alexis, but another contract “rebel” Mesut Ozil held the Blues at their home for the second time this season.

Cheered on by some amazing support for the Arsenal fans, the Gunners showed how to play an away game in the cup or anywhere else and come away with heads held high.

On the VAR incidents, Wenger had mixed views. ” There were only two opportunities for them to intervene, the first one was straight away because the ball went out, but the second one for me it would look a bit strange after the game has gone on for a while and then there is a corner and then to come back to a penalty would look strange, because if the referee is uncertain maybe he should be able to block straight away. If there is not penalty you give it to the defending team, because it looks a bit strange to go on for two minutes for example sometimes and then to come back, everybody forgot what happened basically. You cannot intervene straight away, it’s frustrating.”

Serving the second of his three game touchline ban, Wenger along with Jens Lehman were afforded seats in the Chelsea media area and the Arsenal boss found his temporary seating place to his liking.

” I must say you are well treated, you have the best places in the stadium and you cannot complain,” said Wenger to the assembled media.
” It was frustrating, but the position was quite interesting as I was close to the bench and not too far high up and that’s where I like to be.”

Arsenal and Chelsea now lock horns in the winner take all semi-final 2nd leg at the Emirates stadium in a fortnight where Wenger knows his side have an excellent chance to reach another Wembley final.