Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Chelsea, Capital One Cup Fourth Round

Emirates Stadium, London
Tuesday, October 29
3:45 p.m. EDT, 19:45 GMT

  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Phil Dowd
    • Assistants: Peter Bankes and David Bryan
    • 4th Official: Andre Marriner
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 71 Arsenal wins, 56 Chelsea wins, 52 draws
  • All-Time in the League Cup: 2 Arsenal wins, 3 Chelsea wins
  • Arsenal's Path Here
    • Third Round: 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion (won 4-3 on penalties)
  • Chelsea's Path Here
    • Third Round: 2-0 win at Swindon Town
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-W-W-D-W-W
  • Chelsea's League Form: L-W-D-W-W-W
  • Weather: Clearing, 11 C / 51 F
Well, Arsenal's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace might not have been as comprehensive as we all might have liked and Mikel Arteta's red card didn't make it any easier to swallow, but in the end, it was a win, and Arsenal are still top of the table.

With Liverpool, Dortmund, and Manchester United on the horizon, Arsenal will switch gears a bit tonight in the League Cup as they play host to a powerful Chelsea team that is rounding into terrifying form themselves. This becomes a pretty odd fixture from an Arsenal perspective: yes, it's a London derby and yes, it is a single elimination cup tie, but it's also the lowest of their priorities going forward, when you look at the daunting list of matches that will follow.

In a sense, Arsenal do have bigger fish to fry, in the league and in Europe. That doesn't mean they shouldn't go for it in this match, however, and a win over Chelsea would do well for the team's building confidence. Ultimately though, this match is not the be-all end-all that the following week might be.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Eisfeld (back,) Zelalem (knee,) Frimpong (match fitness,) Walcott (stomach,) Sanogo (back,) Podolski (hamstring,) Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee,) Diaby (knee)
Doubts: Flamini (groin,) Gnabry (ankle)
Suspended: Arteta (one match)

A bit fuller injury section above for this match, as I have to include the reserve options that will also miss out, in addition to the already injured first team members. You know who is out from the regulars. You're likely aware Mikel Arteta is suspended for one match after his red card on Saturday. Red cards for last man fouls (though, it's not really clear how Marouane Chamakh had an obvious goal scoring opportunity to Chris Foy) are one match bans and not three, so I never expected Arsenal to appeal; Arteta will be available for Liverpool on Saturday.

Mathieu Flamini picked up a groin injury to go with his concussion on Saturday, so there's no word on how long he might be out. Elsewhere, Jack Wilshere is fine and could get a start, but Serge Gnabry is a doubt after taking a kick to the ankle. Among the younger players, Thomas Eisfeld, Gedion Zelalem, and Emmanuel Frimpong are all unvailable, but Isaac Hayden and Ryo Miyaichi will likely be involved.

Even with the trickiness of Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund, and Manchester United to follow (all in eight days, too,) Arsenal's injury list means there isn't a whole lot of rotation they can afford. It's easy to pick at the back: Thomas Vermaelen should start, as should Carl Jenkinson, Nacho Monreal, and Lukasz Fabianski in goal. But up top, Arsenal don't have a lot of options. All of this means I'm not even going to try to predict the XI.

So, here's to hoping Nicklas Bendtner gets a hat trick.

Chelsea Squad News

Out: van Ginkel (knee)

On the other hand, Chelsea has a squad so deep, especially in midfield, "rotation" means Juan Mata gets to start. There could be starts for players who came off the bench on Sunday: John Obi Mikel, Samuel Eto'o, and Willian. David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta could start at the back; Mark Schwarzer may start in goal to give Petr Cech a break. You have to think that this means an understrength Chelsea squad should still be favored against an understrength Arsenal squad.

Chelsea have only one injury in their first team, with Marco van Ginkel out for the year with a knee injury.

Current Form

Arsenal responded moderately well from their 2-1 loss to Dortmund midweek; they did pick up all three points against Crystal Palace, though they did not make easy work of a team that's languishing at the bottom of the table. That said, Arsenal have still lost just twice this season in 15 matches across all competitions.

Chelsea have also lost just twice this year, in 14 matches across all competitions, though their penalty shootout loss to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Super Cup counts as a draw in this list. The Blues went through a rough patch after the September international break, losing to Everton in the league and Basel in the Champions League in quick succession. Since then, the only blemish on their record is a draw with Spurs. After Sunday's 2-1 win over Manchester City, aided by a Joe Hart howler, Chelsea have won five straight across all competitions.

Match Facts

Chelsea won both matches with Arsenal last season, both by 2-1 scorelines. At the Emirates last September, Chelsea scored twice from set pieces as Laurent Koscielny, out of form at the time, had a nightmare at the back; Gervinho had Arsenal's goal, which had made it 1-1 at the interval. At the Bridge in January, Chelsea scored twice early in the snow to take a commanding lead in the match, but Arsenal showed resolve and finally showed up in the second half. Theo Walcott scored in the 56th minute to make the match interesting, but Arsenal never found an equalizer.

Arsenal and Chelsea have met four times in the League Cup, playing five matches in the process. Arsenal won the first meeting, 2-1 in 1976/77. Chelsea have won the last three ties, most recently 2-1 in the 2007 final, famous for Abou Diaby knocking out John Terry (and the three red cards that came in injury time.) The last time Arsenal and Chelsea met in the League Cup in North London, Alex Manninger was in goal for the Gunners and Chelsea won 5-0 (Manninger didn't lose another game for Arsenal that season, going unbeaten in seven matches, though as the story goes, his confidence was shot.) Manninger had also been in goal when Arsenal and Chelsea met in the League Cup the year prior, which saw Arsenal win at home, but lose the tie on aggregate in the second leg.

The Referee

The referee is Staffordshire-based Phil Dowd. Arsenal fans' memories of Dowd have, in recent years, been clouded by the circumstances of the 4-4 draw in Newcastle on February 5, 2011. Since that match, Arsenal have seen Dowd seven times and have a record of three wins (over Norwich, Aston Villa, and West Ham,) three draws (with Blackburn, Fulham, and Manchester United,) and one loss (1-0 at Manchester City in December of 2011.) The West Ham win and the draws with Fulham and United happened last year; in the 3-3 draw with Fulham, Dowd awarded Arsenal a penalty at the death, which Mikel Arteta did not convert. All things considered, Arsenal do not have a particularly bad track record with Dowd in the middle.

As for Chelsea's record with Dowd, they won all three matches with him last year; they were all clean sheets and they were all at Stamford Bridge: 2-0 over Newcastle, 8-0 over Aston Villa, and 1-0 over Manchester United in the FA Cup. Dowd also worked Chelsea's FA Cup Final win over Liverpool in 2012, meaning Chelsea have won four straight with Dowd in the middle. The Blues' last loss with Dowd came 1-0 at West Bromwich Albion in March of 2012; you may recall that match cost Andre Villas-Boas his job.

Around the Fourth Round
  • Tuesday: Birmingham City v. Stoke City; St. Andrew's, Birmingham
  • Tuesday: Burnley v. West Ham United; Turf Moor, Burnley
  • Tuesday: Leicester City v. Fulham; King Power Stadium, Leicester
  • Tuesday: Manchester United v. Norwich City; Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Wednesday: Newcastle United v. Manchester City; St. James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Wednesday: Tottenham Hotspur v. Hull City; White Hart Lane, London
  • November 6: Sunderland v. Southampton; Stadium of Light, Sunderland