Chelsea travel to the Emirates stadium on Tuesday night for the fourth round of the league cup. It is a fixture that is highly anticipated by those Chelsea supporters lucky enough to have obtained a ticket, as not only were they available at just ten pounds, but we have been allocated just under 9000 tickets.
We had already been drawn away to the winners of the West Bromwich Albion versus Arsenal match as it headed for penalties in the previous round, and the thought of taking a sizeable allocation their meant that few were disappointed that Arsenal prevailed. My first thought when hearing news of our allocation was of the legendary 83-84 season opener, away at Highbury. A fresh optimism after promotion back to the top flight saw John Neal’s blue and white army head to north London in their droves. The images of Kerry Dixon’s volleyed equaliser in front of a clock end rammed full of jubilant blues are the stuff of legend, the clock end wasn’t the only part of the ground occupying Chelsea either, as they seemed to be everywhere! It is rare to get an allocation of this size for a domestic away fixture, excluding neutral venues of course, so the Chelsea supporters in attendance will be relishing the opportunity to embarrass the Arsenal supporters in their own back yard, as it’s safe to say no one will be hearing much from the home supporters on Tuesday night!
Jose Mourinho made it clear in his programme notes from Sunday’s win over Manchester City that he didn’t think much of the fact we only have 24 hours rest before the match, so expect 11 changes from Sunday’s side. A line up similar to that fielded away at Swindon in the last round is likely, with Schwarzer coming in for Cech, Azpilicueta and Bertrand in the full back roles, De Bruyne wide and Ba upfront. Wenger is renowned for rotating his side for league cup matches, the £10 ticket price invariably taken by the Arsenal supporters to mean they will be watching an under 21 side. Given the expected changes to both sides it renders either sides form unimportant for this match, and it’s very hard to call, as there are a lot of unknowns. As I pointed out in the Swindon Town preview for the last round, Mourinho has a great record in this competition, guiding us to wins in 2005 & 2007, and is in fact unbeaten in normal time in the league cup as Chelsea manager. He will also see this as an early opportunity to get the upper hand over Wenger, and even though our side will be rotated, we may have more strength in depth in terms of players available who have featured more regularly in the first team than our Arsenal counterparts. While Jose speaks about having to rotate due to the short space of time between fixtures, he will put out a side that he believes will be good enough to win. He knows the importance of this competition, and the positive effect it can have on the rest of the season if you can go on to lift it. Unlike Arsenal, Chelsea aren’t in the habit of writing of our chances of winning silverware, as I’m sure the regulars at the Emirates will be reminded on Tuesday.
Sing up for the Chelsea.