Chelsea will play their second match in three days when Jose Mourinho’s side take on Arsenal in the Capital One Cup and both managers are expected to make a lot of changes.
Juan Mata, David Luiz, Michael Essien, Cesar Azpilicueta and Mark Schwarzer are likely to start for the Blues after not featuring at the weekend whilst Willian, John Obi Mikel and Samuel Eto’o may also be in the frame for a spot in the XI.
Arsene Wenger will be without Mikel Arteta after he was sent off against Crystal Palace and Mathieu Flamini is suffering with a groin injury, but he said that he was planning on resting many of his first team regulars anyway and give the fringe players a chance to shine.
The Capital One isn’t a prestigious competition but it’s the first opportunity of silverware in the English season, it’s the first competition Mourinho won with Chelsea and any match against a rival is always one that you want to win.
Mourinho believes that fans at the Emirates stadium will be denied a true spectacle down to poor scheduling and originally threatened to field an under-21 side, but he’s had a change of heart out of respect to the fans and Chelsea possess a strong enough squad to fight on several fronts.
My predicted XI:
C. Azpilicueta – G. Cahill – D. Luiz – R. Bertrand
M. Essien – J. Mikel
K. De Bruyne – J. Mata – Willian
Arsenal have had more than 28 hours rest that Chelsea ahead of this cup clash but they don’t have the sort of squad depth that Mourinho enjoys and the XI above are more than capable of putting the Gunners out of another cup competition and extending their trophy drought.
For the likes of Essien and Schwarzer the Capital One Cup and perhaps the early FA Cup ties are probably the only times they’ll get the chance to play barring injuries to the squad so they’ll be keen to impress.
Ordinarily I would have liked to see Torres put straight back into the fold as he’s in good form at the moment but because of the scheduling it makes more sense to leave him out and Eto’o was good in the Cardiff City game so I think he deserves another time to shine.