London’s two most glamorous sides, Chelsea and Arsenal, highlight a great slate of eight Capital One Cup contests this week as the two English Premier League top four sides face off at the Emirates for a place in the quarterfinals.
The Round Four contest kicks off at 3:45 ET Tuesday with both squads expected to rotate in order to cope with a grueling month thick with domestic and European league games. Chelsea played a fierce fixture against Manchester City on Sunday, while this midweek match makes four contests in the space of 11 days for their North London rivals.
Arsenal’s youngsters will have their tails up, eager to impress manager Arsene Wenger and make a case for a place in the first team.
The Frenchman has traditionally used the Football League Cup as a chance to play talented teenagers. They snuck through last round with a penalty shootout victory against West Brom.
Gooners are desperate for a trophy after eight long title-less years have passed since the 2005 FA Cup, and this tournament provides, perhaps, the clearest path to the silverware stage.
Chelsea, meanwhile, four-time winners of the competition including victories in 2005 and 2007 under Jose Mourinho, now on his second tour of Blues duty, also is expected to give starts to those longing for more regular playing time including Juan Mata, Demba Ba, Michael Essien and Kevin De Bruyne.
Mourinho’s men eased their way to Round Four with a breezy 2-0 win away to Swindon Town.
Tuesday’s is the type of contest in which observers and analysts can pick a stat to make a case for either club. In the last 23 meetings, Chelsea has won 13 times and drawn six. They have also claimed victory in the last three League Cup contests with Arsenal, including the 2007 final.
On the other hand, the Gunners are winners of nine of their last 10 home League Cup matches and have not lost back-to-back home contests since February.
Now known as the Capital One Cup, the tournament, in its 54th iteration, does not have a bracket. Instead, teams are pitted against each other at random with a new draw after each round.
Also in action Tuesday, Championship sides Birmingham City, Burnley and Leicester host big boys Stoke, West Ham United and Fulham, respectively, while Manchester United will welcome Norwich to Old Trafford.
The final Round Four fixture comes a week from Wednesday as Sunderland scheduled to battle Southampton at the Stadium of Light.
The quarterfinals draw is set to take place Oct. 30 with games to be played the week of Dec. 16. The final will be contested March 2 in Wembley Stadium.