Arsenal reached the Carabao Cup final after coming from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1 in the second leg of their semi-final at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Gunners were impressive in defence as they secured a goalless draw in the first leg at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, but were broken down early on as Eden Hazard put Chelsea ahead after seven minutes.
Each side made just a single change. David Ospina started in goal for Arsenal and Pedro came in ahead of Michy Batshuayi for Chelsea. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was cup-tied for the Gunners.
They recovered well, however, and Antonio Rudiger’s unfortunate own goal levelled the game before Granit Xhaka netted the winner on the hour mark.
English Premier League – Tue 30, 19:45
The victory set up a Wembley date with Manchester City on Sunday, February 25.
Arsenal-Chelsea talking points
Arsenal have reached the Carabao Cup final with a 2-1 win over Chelsea – and here we round up the talking points from the contest
Chelsea started the brighter and had the ball in the back of the net in the fifth minute as Pedro powered a header in from 12 yards, only for his effort to be correctly ruled out for offside.
But Arsene Wenger’s side did not heed the warning signs and Pedro turned provider for their opener as he fed Hazard through for the Belgian to calmly finish.
Arsenal pulled level shortly afterwards in fortuitous fashion as Nacho Monreal’s header from a corner cannoned off Marcos Alonso and then Rudiger before beating the helpless Willy Caballero in goal.
Chelsea then suffered a blow as Willian went off injured, allowing Ross Barkley to make his debut for the club, but there were relatively few chances throughout the rest of the half for either side.
Arsenal: Ospina (6), Bellerin (7), Mustafi (7), Koscielny (7), Monreal (8), Elneny (7), Xhaka (7), Wilshere (7), Ozil (8), Iwobi (6), Lacazette (6)
Subs: Kolasinac (n/a), Ramsey (n/a)
Chelsea: Caballero (5), Azpilicueta (5), Christensen (5), Rudiger (4), Moses (5), Bakayoko (5), Kante (6), Alonso (5), Willian (n/a), Hazard (7), Pedro (6)
Subs: Zappacosta (n/a), Barkley (5), Batshuayi (n/a)
Man of the match: Nacho Monreal
Arsenal improved after the break and they took the lead, again in slightly lucky circumstances, on the hour. Rudiger was once more the unfortunate party as Alexandre Lacazette’s hopeful cross took a hefty deflection off the defender, and the ball fell perfectly for Xhaka to poke home from six yards.
Alex Iwobi had a glorious chance to seal the win after 76 minutes as Mesut Ozil found him clean through after a flowing Arsenal move, but he could only fire straight at Caballero from just inside the box.
But the miss didn’t cost the Gunners as they held on for victory.
- Arsenal will play in their eighth League Cup final; only Liverpool (12) and Manchester United (9) have played in more (Aston Villa and Spurs also on 8).
- The Gunners scored just six goals on their way to the final, the lowest goal-tally of any side to reach a League Cup final.
- All five of Chelsea’s defeats in domestic competitions this season have come in London, courtesy of two losses at Stamford Bridge and one each at Selhurst Park, London Stadium and the Emirates.
- Hazard has netted three goals in his last two Chelsea games in all competitions, as many as in his previous 14.
- Chelsea have scored three own-goals in all competitions this season, a joint-high for Premier League teams (level with Brighton).
- Barkley made his first competitive club appearance in 248 days, since playing against Arsenal at the Emirates with Everton on May 21st 2017.
- Xhaka has bagged two goals in his last four home games for the Gunners in all competitions, after managing just one in his 29 before that.
Arsene Wenger: “In the first half we gave them too much respect and we were a bit scared to really go for it, and we suffered from that. The good thing was is that it was 1-1 at half-time and we knew we could do better in the second half, and that’s what we did. We took control of the game and started to dominate.
“We have some time to prepare for [the final] but we’re happy to bring our fans to Wembley. I don’t know how many times we’ve been there, but we’re happy to get there again.”
Antonio Conte: “There’s disappointment about the result as we were trying to reach the final. We conceded two goals and we were unlucky because of two deflections. We had a good run in this competition and it’s a pity for me, my players and our fans.
“We started very well and played a good first half. Then when there is an injury to one of the best players it’s not simple, because the only substitute on the bench was Barkley. He has a lot of space for improvement. He’s only been here working with us for two weeks and today I was forced to make the substitution [early].” (SKY SPORTS).