Another opportunity to win a trophy passes Arsenal by as the 8 year-long wait to deliver silverware continues. The London derby in the Capital One Cup fourth round was more a test on a psychological level for both the sides as both Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho opted to rest their big names or in Chelsea's case. their 'bigger' names.
The Blues made ten changes to the side that beat Manchester City on the weekend with Gary Cahill the only survivor. Wenger on the other hand decided to mix things up with the blend of both youth and experience in the side. Although Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud were rested, the squad still consisted of star performers in Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere.
Much was made in the pre match build-up regarding the difference in the value of the two sides with Chelsea's costing more than £200m whereas Arsenal's squad just crossed the £100m mark and the difference was there for all to see. Arsenal spent the entire summer chasing big names but failed to find an answer to their major issues in the transfer window and their shortcomings were clearly visible.
The Blues outplayed their counterparts for almost the entire game barring a couple of good opportunities for the Gunners. Chelsea, despite naming their second string team seemed to be in total control, a side it must be said, that seemed good enough to challenge any Premier League opposition.
The riches at Mourinho's disposal were almost embarrassing when compared to Wenger's options. £30m signing Willian made a start alongside the out-of-favour Juan Mata and Kevin De Bruyne, the latter was criticised by Mourinho after his poor showing in the last round against Swindon Town but the Belgian's eagerness to improve was palpable.
It seemed every Chelsea player out there had the hunger and the passion to prove to the Portuguese manager that they deserve a more regular chance in the starting line-up. Chelsea coach Steve Holland said that Mourinho told the players before the game to give him a selection headache for the weekend fixture and it seems like he came away from the game with quite a few.
Wenger lacked options
Micheal Essien who has hardly made an appearance this season, captained the side. The Ghanian who was previously a more attack minded player during his Lyon days was given the license to move forward with John Obi Mikel staying back. Despite all the criticism Chelsea's double pivot has faced this season the way the two African midfielders controlled that central area was impressive.
Essien's darting runs into the Arsenal box was reminiscent of his old Chelsea days while in his prime and even though the former Lyon star looked a bit out of touch with his shooting, he certainly gives Mourinho a very decent option as the season continues.
The three behind the striker of Willian, Mata and Kevin De Bruyne showed the hunger and the drive that had been missing from them this season. Willian was arguably the most impressive Chelsea player on the pitch who did exactly what Mourinho has asked of his creative midfielders.
The Brazilian's movement and runs were impressive but it was his defensive work rate that had clearly caught the eye of many. The Brazilian is finally showing signs of settling in England and even though his signing had many eyebrows raised, a player of Willian's quality can outshine anyone on his day.
Mata who has had a difficult relationship with his new boss, got on the score sheet with an impressive right footed shot past Lukas Fabianski to settle the game. The Spaniard has been in the shadows of Oscar and Eden Hazard this season but once again showed what an exceptional player he is. His impressive work rate while defending and support to the team on the counter-attacks alongside Samuel Eto'o and Willian was impressive and despite going 2-0 ahead, he continued to fulfill his defensive duties.
Out to impress | Mata was impressive yet again
Arsenal on the other hand, were left with Nicklas Bendtner and Ryo Miyachi in the attack both of whom barely made a contribution. Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla were impressive at times but failed to test Mark Schwarzer in goal. Ozil and Giroud were summoned late in the second half but both of them failed to make an impact.
What would have really impressed Mourinho was the performance of his back-line. Cesar Azpilicueta who was heavily praised after his display against FC Schalke, started in his more natural right-back position and gave Chelsea the lead after a defensive error by Carl Jenkinson. The two full-backs, Ryan Bertrand and Azpilicueta were a surprise threat on the Arsenal goal with both getting into good goal-scoring positions on numerous occasions. There was no show-boating by David Luiz who alongside Gary Cahill played a very disciplined game.
Wenger was hoping his side could come up with a good response after the midweek defeat to Borussia Dortmund. But they have now succumbed to another loss at home and with Liverpool and Manchester United coming up next in the league, with a trip to Germany for the return fixture with Dortmund sandwiched between the two as well, things aren't getting any easier for Arsenal.
For Chelsea though, Mourinho will look to get his players ready as they make a tricky trip to Newcastle United and although many of the Capital One Cup eleven may not feature in the starting line-up, the impressive performance of Chelsea's 'B' side certainly shows the depth the Portuguese has at his disposal.
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