Arsenal v Chelsea: Tight contest likely as closely matched pair battle for Wembley spot

Can former Chelsea stopper Petr Cech help Arsenal to a League Cup final?
Can former Chelsea stopper Petr Cech help Arsenal to a League Cup final?
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Two London giants meet at The Emirates on Wednesday night with a cup final appearance the prize for the winners, but with four draws between the two already this season Joe Dyer thinks we could be in for a marathon night...

"This season's head-to-head results show us that Arsenal and Chelsea are closely matched and it seems likely that extra-time will be played on Wednesday night."

Arsenal v Chelsea
Wednesday January 23, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports

Arsenal steady the ship and say goodbye to Sanchez

After a wobbly few weeks the Gunners made a welcome return to winning ways this weekend with a 4-1 home romp over Crystal Palace. Arsene Wenger's side blitzed the visitors, going four goals up after just 22 minutes to placate a fanbase just waiting to rip into a side suffering - and a manager who had overseen - a five game winless run. That sequence included damaging defeats at Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth as the Gunners tumbled out of the FA Cup and dropped off the pace in the league

The big news elsewhere was the transfer of Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United and the arrival of Henrikh Mkhitaryan in north London. The Armenian was an effective performer for the Red Devils at the start of the season but fell out of favour with Jose Mourinho. Statistically he is unlikely to match Sanchez for goalscoring but still looks a handy operator in the Arsenal attack.

And he will be a welcome addition as the Gunners are a little light in that area of the pitch with both Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud out injured. The Armenian will not feature on Wednesday, however, as he is cup-tied.

Batshuayi to finally make mark for Blues?

Chelsea also netted four times this weekend as they cruised past Brighton's home challenge without conceding. The scoreline perhaps doesn't quite reflect Brighton's effort in the game, with the home side denied a pair of penalty shouts, but Chelsea were worthy winners. Like Arsenal, the win snapped a poor streak with the Blues drawing their previous five in all competitions, a run that included the first leg of this fixture, a 0-0 stalemate at Stamford Bridge.

Alvaro Morata is back in contention after serving a one match ban but may find he starts the game on the bench having hit a poor patch in recent weeks (no goals in his last six appearances). A frontline of Willian-Eden Hazard-Michy Batshuayi impressed against Brighton with the latter receiving a rare public compliment from Antonio Conte after the match. The Italian may stick with that trident for this game.

Thibaut Courtois should return to the first XI for this fixture having missed the last two games. Gary Cahill is out but rising star of the defence, Andreas Christensen, should feature.

Chelsea slight favourites but stalemate is the selection

There's a tight match odds market to mull over here. The better team in the Premier League by eight points, Chelsea are [2.62] to win this in 90 minutes with Arsenal [2.98]. The draw is [3.5] and that could be the canny play - all four clashes between the two this season have ended in stalemates - even if just as a trading vehicle on the Betfair Exchange. The tie is nicely poised, a cup final is on the line and this could be tight.

Recent results suggest a low goals total

Goals look likely according to the Exchange market with overs the odds-on option in the market. It's worth noting that three of the two teams' four meetings this season have gone under the 2.5 line with a pair of those ending goalless. Courtois returns for Chelsea, and the Arsenal defence could be at near full-strength with only Nacho Monreal a slight doubt. I think unders represents a touch of value in what could be a tense affair.

How to profit from extra-time being played

This season's head-to-head results show us that Arsenal and Chelsea are closely matched and it seems likely that extra-time will be played on Wednesday night. There are a variety of options open to punters looking to profit from that eventuality.

The draw is the obvious place to start as that is the only result that will deliver extra time, and given all those draws already this season the [3.5] offers a decent return.

If you were confident that the game would still be locked in a stalemate after those 30 minutes then you could back either team to win on penalties, it's a developing market but both clubs can be backed at [22.0] to win the game on spot kicks.

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