Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Wilshere, Elneny, Iwobi, Ozil, Lacazette
Subs: Macey, Chambers, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Ramsey, Nelson, Nketiah
Arsenal made it to the final of the Carabao Cup after a Nacho Monreal Double Cannon and a second half strike from Granit Xhaka gave them a 2-1 win over Chelsea at the Emirates this evening.
Arsene Wenger made just one change to the starting XI that beat Crystal Palace 4-1 at the weekend, with David Ospina replacing Petr Cech in goal, while there was a place for Aaron Ramsey on the bench after his injury absence.
Arsenal began the game in careless fashion, giving the ball away carelessly in dangerous areas, and one of those concessions led to Pedro heading home in the 4th minute but the goal was rightly ruled out for offside.
The let-off didn’t last long though as the visitors went ahead just two minutes later. Pedro played Hazard in behind, the Arsenal defence was cut open far too easily, and the Belgian finished from close range. 0-1.
It needed a quick response and that’s what we got. After a good Bellerin cross was put behind for a corner, the set-piece came in, Nacho Monreal headed it towards goal, it hit Alonso, then Rudiger and it left the keeper wrongfooted as it dropped into the net. 1-1.
Hazard picked up a yellow for a foul on Ozil, Willian shot wide from inside our box, and Ospina was almost caught out with Hazard kept the ball in from a clever pass but frantic defending saw Arsenal get it clear.
Willian was forced off in the 28th minute, replaced by Ross Barkley who made his Chelsea debut, and a foul on the former Everton man saw Wilshere pick up a 31st minute booking. Xhaka curled a free kick just over via a deflection from a tight angle, and right before half-time some nicer Arsenal interplay saw an Ozil shot deflect just wide with the keeper at full stretch.
There were no changes at the break from either manager, and Xhaka had the first effort on goal when he curled over after the ball broke to him just outside the box. There was a strange moment when Hazard found himself through on goal, tearing towards the box, but he lost his balance and just fell over.
On the hour mark though, Arsenal were ahead on the night and in the tie. Lacazette did well out wide, crossed it into the middle, the ball deflected into the centre and Xhaka was there to poke home from close range like some kind of penalty area poacher. 2-1.
The two combined again but this time the Swiss international’s shot flew wide, as Chelsea brought on Batshuayi and Zappacosta to try and get the goal they needed. Hazard shot high and wide, while at the other end Ozil created a great chance for Iwobi but he saw his effort saved by the legs of Cabellero in the Chelsea goal.
Bellerin blocked an Alonso attempt at the back post as Antonio Conte’s men piled on the pressure. Arsene Wenger brought on Aaron Ramsey and Sead Kolasinac as the game entered its final 7 minutes, and there were hearts in mouths when Alonso stood over a 30 yard free kick but the Spaniard put it over the bar.
A late corner in 4 minutes of injury time could have proved dangerous but in the end solid defending, not least from Monreal, saw Arsenal through to Wembley to face Man City in the final on February 25th.