Liverpool’s dramatic victory on penalties over Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final delighted their fans, but it might also have raised a smile for Arsenal supporters. Jurgen Klopp’s side lifted the trophy at Wembley on Sunday after Kepa Arrizabalaga blazed his spot-kick over the bar to give them an 11-10 win following a 0-0 draw in normal time.
It was an unfortunate way for it to end for Thomas Tuchel’s side, who had the better of the chances but could not find a way past Caoimhin Kelleher in the Liverpool goal.
Mason Mount spurned two brilliant opportunities, Kelleher saved from Christian Pulisic, while Chelsea also had three efforts ruled out for offside.
Tuchel brought on Kepa for Edouard Mendy in the final moments of extra-time, but the Spaniard could not save any of the 11 efforts in faced from 12 yards before skying his own shot to end the game.
Defeat came as a bitter disappointment for Chelsea, who have been fighting on many different fronts recently.
Tuchel’s side only recently returned from Abu Dhabi, where they won the Club World Cup, while they also played the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Lyon on Tuesday.
West Ham’s 1-0 win over Wolves on Sunday saw Arsenal pushed back into sixth place, but they remain well positioned, just two points off fourth-placed Manchester United and five behind Chelsea in third.
Arsenal have three games in hand on United and one on the Blues, meaning a top four finish is definitely realistic – as club legend Lee Dixon outlined recently.
“If I’m in that Arsenal dressing room now I’m not looking at Man United I’m looking at Chelsea,” he said on Amazon Prime.
“Win our game in hand and [we’re] two points behind Chelsea – they’ve got [more] games than us to play in the Champions League.
“I’m getting my sights at where Arsenal should be, or should have been for years. All of a sudden that is the target they should be aiming at.”
By the time that game rolls around Arsenal will have had nine days rest since their win over Wolves, while Chelsea are back in action almost straight away on Wednesday, against Luton Town in the fifth round of the FA Cup before playing Burnley on Saturday.
If, as expected, Tuchel’s side beat Luton then they will, of course, have to play another tie in the competition, adding further to their workload.
In fact, it could all add up to four games in 11 days – and that is without even mentioning the off-pitch problems the club is currently experiencing due to Roman Abramovich’s ownership.
So, while Arsenal are sixth in the Premier League table, they may well be confident they have what it takes to reel in a tired Chelsea squad over the coming weeks.
Published at Mon, 28 Feb 2022 06:00:00 +0000