Who: Arsenal FC vs. Chelsea FC
What: Capital One Cup (Fourth Round)
Where: Emirates Stadium, London, England, United Kingdom
When: Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Weather: The Weather Channel London forecast
Time: 19:45 GMT/3:45 p.m. EDT/12:45 p.m. PDT
TV: beIN Sport USA, beIN Sport Play (US); Sky Sports 1/HD, Sky Sports 1 Ireland, Sky Go UK, Arsenal Player, NOW TV (UK)
Worldwide Livestreams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Radio: BBC Radio 5
3-Way Odds: Arsenal +150, Chelsea +175, Draw +230
Total: Over 2½ -170, Under 2½ +130
Decimal Odds: Arsenal 2.50, Chelsea 2.75, Draw 3.30
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 1.59, Under 2½ 1.91
Fractional Odds: Arsenal 3/2, Chelsea 7/4, Draw 23/10
Fractional Total: Over 2½ 10/17, Under 2½ 13/10
Pick ‘Em Odds: Arsenal Pick -120, Chelsea Pick -110
Source: Bovada (Kahnawake, Canada)
So, the top two teams in the English Premier League standings meet and it’s in a game neither may care much about? Please tell me it ain’t so, Louis.
First-place Arsenal (7-1-1, 22 points) welcomes second-place Chelsea (6-2-1, 20 points) across London Town to the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday as the two English giants collide in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup in a match the visitors may care little about, according to statements made by Blues manager Jose Mourinho.
But more on that later, Bubba. We have a cake to bake here and no sense trying to put the icing on until we have some kind of a batter completed. Have you lost your mind? Have those 24-plus hours of soccer you watched this weekend dulled your senses so much that you’ve forgotten exactly how cakes work, brother? Get it together for the love of Dider Drogba my man before I’m forced to call the authorities.
Anyway, one of the storylines heading into this Arsenal-Chelsea game is that both teams are very hot and have been playing some extremely good football in all tournaments as of late.
The Gunners have only lost two games since the end of last season—a 3-1 setback in their Premier League opener vs. Aston Villa and last Tuesday to Borussia Dortmund (2-1) in UEFA Champions League group stage play—both somewhat surprisingly in North London on their hallowed home turf.
The European League champion Blues have been in a little groove of their own lately, starting out perfect in October (5-0-0) and outscoring opponents by a robust 16-3. They head into this Capital One Cup tussle on the heels of an emotional and electric 2-1 win over Manchester City on Sunday at Stamford Bridge.
Both Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal and Mourinho's Chelsea can thank some of their recent success to the oh-so-wise summer signings of a pair of talented German midfielders—the Gunners’ Mesut Ozil and the Blues’ Andre Schurrle.
Heading into the transfer window, it seemed both London heavyweights were fairly set in the midfield with guys like Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Frank Lampard, among others, but it seems the additions of Ozil and Schurrle may have put the clubs over the top on the attack.
So let’s get to what both Chelsea fans and sports handicappers care about heading into this match: Will Mourinho field a competitive Blues side or will he go with an under-21 team as he suggested in a story in The Guardian late last month in protest of the quick scheduling turnaround after playing Manchester City on Sunday?
When asked about it immediately after Chelsea’s last Capital One Cup game—a 2-0 win over Swindon Town at County Ground on Sept. 24—Mourinho, now a cartoonish 51-14-0 at home with the Blues, seemed to be charging forward with playing the kids on this particular date on the schedule.
“My thought is that I have to make a decision, and my answer is the under-21 team will have a very good experience in the Capital One Cup,” said Mourinho in the story. “We play Sunday against Manchester City, and Tuesday against Arsenal when the people decide the fixtures.
“The players have... two days. It's something I have to accept because I have no other option, but I have to prioritize, yes. The league is more important. After that we go to Newcastle, too, and probably it will be a good chance for the kids to play a good match.”
But that was then and this is now, and who knows what The Special One will do, but it seems the 50-year-old Portuguese legend probably didn’t return to the United Kingdom intent on eventually lifting another Capital One Cup.
So if Wenger does go with an expected team with at least a handful of first-team regulars, does that give Arsenal an edge over Chelsea here? You bet it does.
Should Mourinho indeed field an under-21 team—calmer and more logical heads would think he actually wouldn’t—does that send some kind of signal that he doesn’t care about winning or advancing in the historic tournament, also known as the Football League Cup? Si, senor.
And anyone thinking they have any idea what Mourinho will do in the future should ask Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas about the curious mind of The Grey One. Or Romelu Lukaku. Maybe ask Juan Mata. Why, it’s Monday morning and I imagine Mourinho himself may have absolutely no idea exactly what he’s going to do yet, celery breath.
One guy who definitely won’t be playing in the game for Arsenal will be Mikel Arteta, who received a red card in the Gunners' 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday across town at Selhurst Park.
So wager-wise, if Mourinho—who already won this tourney twice in his last stint at Stamford Bridge—indeed elects to go to with an under-21 squad, Arsenal is definitely worth a bet as it signals a lack of intent on actually winning with Chelsea heading in.
And no matter how good the Blues' youth players are here, defeating a team that’s been on a major roll with a couple of first-teamers should provide to be too much of an obstacle.
After this on Chelsea’s schedule is a Premier League date on Saturday with Newcastle United at St. James’ Park (NBC Sports Network, 8:45 a.m. ET/5:45 a.m. PT), while Arsenal's schedule hits an extremely rugged patch with games against Liverpool (at Emirates, Saturday, Nov. 2); at Borussia Dortmund (Champions League, Nov. 6); at Manchester United (Nov. 10); and vs. league upstart Southampton (Nov. 23).
And with that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising if Wenger and the Gunners themselves cared even less about this particular fixture. Go figure. We’ll see how both managers really decide to approach it before we know it.
PREDICTION: Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1
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