The Arsenal football team faced Chelsea FC in a difficult encounter in the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg. However, they staged a comeback to beat their London rivals 2-1. As a result, they secured a place in the Wembley final against Manchester City next month. The team has defender Nacho Monreal to thank for the victory. However, it was not all plain sailing for the Gunners. Carelessness and poor defending culminated in an Eden Hazard goal in the 7th minute. Monreal’s header, 5 minutes later, negated Chelsea’s advantage.
An hour later, Granit Xhaka scored the winning goal. Chelsea may have dominated the first half but the second half was Arsenal’s for the taking. Wenger’s boys had some solid defense and Antonio Conte’s men could not breach it. The Gunners proved their adaptability by turning things around in the second half. Despite losing a star in Alexis Sanchez, they needed to show that they could hold their own without him. It was a confidence booster, and reaching a cup final is a positive in itself.
However, the way Arsenal kicked off could have been their undoing. As mentioned earlier, careless passing and poor decisions put them under pressure. But Wenger showed tactical flexibility by shifting to a back three in the second half.
David Ospina- The Colombian had a fairly quiet time on the pitch except for the opening few minutes. He was left exposed at the goal and could have saved it. Rating: 5
Hector Bellerin- He struggled in the first half when going on the offensive. However, he managed to keep Marcos Alonso quiet. He also played a crucial role in setting up the winning goal. Rating: 6
Shkodran Mustafi- He put in a decent performance against Chelsea but seemed nervous at times. He has a good spatial awareness and make 11 clearances. He was the rock that solidified the defence after the poor start. Rating: 7
Laurent Koscielny- The Frenchman made an impact in setting up the opening goal. He partnered well with Bellerin down the right at times and had a solid defence. Rating: 7
Nacho Monreal- Arguably, the standout player on the night. He was involved heavily in the first goal and had a flawless defense especially in the second period. He even won the header to convert it into a goal. Rating: 9
Granit Xhaka- Didn’t have such a good defense, but made a great run to score the winner. He poked it home like a classic penalty-box poacher. Rating: 7
Jack Wilshere- He completed 93 percent of his passes, and always looked to drive the team forward. He even made things happen in the midfield to set up Arsenal’s eventual victory Rating: 8
Mohamed Elneny- Expansion was never his style, but proved useful in slotting into a back three in the second half. He was solid as a DM and a CB. Rating: 8
Alex Iwobi- Best defensive game in a long time. He managed to keep Victor Moses on a tight leash in the entire match. However, his offensive game left a lot to be desired. He even missed an easy shot on goal Rating: 6
Mesut Ozil- With a passing accuracy of 95 percent, he delivered a mature performance. He was a key factor in Arsenal’s improved performance in the second half. Nothing that Chelsea threw at him halted his progress. His quality on the ball is almost unparalleled. Rating: 7
Alexandre Lacazette: He was highly effective from the second period onwards. Unfortunately, the lack of options on the bench highlighted the club’s need to pursue Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Ultimately, it was his cross that led to Xhaka’s winner via a deflection. Rating: 7