Arsenal took a 53% majority share of the possession at home to the Blues and, especially in the second half, really took control of the game as they pressed for an equaliser at 1-0.
Lapses in concentration at the back are a disappointment but considering a number of the starting XI have rarely played so far this term (Lukasz Fabianski, Carl Jenkinson, Nacho Monreal, Thomas Vermaelen, Ryo Miyaichi and Nicklas Bendtner) they matched Chelsea in competitiveness for long periods over the 90 minutes.
2) Santi Cazorla
Arsenal’s best performer on the night was undoubtedly Santi Cazorla who, since returning from an ankle injury, has looked a bit peaked at times as he worked his way back to match fitness. It’s very good news indeed for Arsene Wenger that Cazorla looked sharp and on-task on Tuesday and literally ran rings around the likes of Michael Essien and co.
Carl Jenkinson’s misjudged header back to Fabianski gifted the Blues the opening goal but we’ve rarely seen the formerly calamitous Gunners backline make those kinds of individual errors in recent months. In fairness to the 21-year-old right back, he is still vastly inexperienced and hasn’t played much recently. Had it have not been for that, it would likely have been a much more even contest against last season’s Europa League winners and the previous term’s Champions League winners.
If Wenger had to choose one competition to exit early from it would be the League Cup – it’s the least prestigious and whilst Arsenal need a trophy post haste, they can likely capitalise on the extra rest and rotation they’ll be afforded by not progressing. They are top of the Premier League and joint-top of their Champions League group at present and that needs to be their primary focus now until he FA Cup fixtures start to creep in as well.
In fairness, Arsenal were exposed in terms of their squad depth and playing the likes of Jenkinson, Bendtner and Miyaichi in the other competitions would be big risk.
Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs, Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla and Wojceich Szczesny are playing enough minutes as it is right now and it’s only going to get tougher as we head towards January when they can bring in reinforcements so going out of the Capital One Cup is not a catastrophe – it may in fact be a blessing in disguise.
5) Nicklas Bendtner
At least we know now Nicklas Bendtner is not a credible option up front – the Dane came in for some stick and even some booing but, in fairness to him, he is a bit rusty and lacking confidence and it shouldn’t be a surprise he was completely ineffectual against top defenders.
It’s a good thing we know now and Wenger knows, crucially, that he cannot expect Bendtner to score goals of his own accord, he is not a viable option to cover Giroud and, subsequently, I would be surprised if the boss didn’t bring in a player who can and is in January.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald