The duo of Cesar Azpliqueta and Juan Mata scored to help Chelsea knock out Arsenal from the English League Cup on Tuesday as Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez grabbed a brace for Manchester United in the 4-0 thrashing of Norwich City.
Blues’ boss Jose Mourinho had expressed dissatisfaction with the club’s tight fixtures schedule, having played two of English football giants- Manchester City on Sunday and then Arsenal- in the space of three days, but the Portuguese, as promised, rang out ten changes to the side that defeated City at Stamford Bridge with only Garry Cahill keeping his place.
Despite resting the likes of Andre Schurrle, Fernando Torres, Eden Hazard, Spaniard Mata made his sixth start of the season and stood out all through as Chelsea dominated the ‘Gunners’ at their Emirate Stadium home- largely due to a superior squad strength. John Mikel Obi and Mikael Essien bossed the midfield while Willian and Samuiel Eto’O were busy reaping the hosts’ defence apart.
Arsenal just like their visitors thronged out their second-team, with the less-impressive Nicklas Bendtner starting upfront, Aaron Ramsey, Santi carzola and Laurient Koscielny were the three players from Saturday’s 2-0 win at managerless Crystal Palace. Nacho Monreal, Thomas Vermalean, and Luis Fabianski all started.
Azpliqueta had already given the visitors the lead before half-time as Chelsea commanded the opening stage by laying claim to majority of the possession, closed down their marks swiftly and were more comfortable on the ball.
Arsenal found it difficult to get into the game and Bendtner couldn’t help matters upfront, struggling to keep possession.
The Blues’ opener came from a set-piece as the Gunners once more failed to defend a corner kick, the boys from west London pressed forward and when Ramsey challenged Ghanaian Essien, the ball spinned up and Carl Jenkinson’s attempted back-header was wrongly controlled, allowing Azpliqueta to poke home past an onrushing Fabianski.
Azpliqueta soon gave the ball away near his own area only for Monreal to fizz an angled shot a yard wide- every chance of an instant equaliser soon faded away.
Despite Mesut Ozil coming on for the hosts in the second-half, the hosts went further behind to a classy Mata goal.
Ryan Bertrand’s throw-in met Eto’O on the goal line and when the Cameroon international cut the ball back, Willian nodded it onto Mata, who was near the left-hand edge of goal, he darted goalwards before smashing an unstoppable shot into the opposite top corner of the net.
Arsene Wenger quickly reacted by introducing Olivier Giroud for the ineffective Bendtner and the French forward’s close-range shot was saved by Mark Schwarzer.
Chelsea Brazil midfielder Ramires came close to extending the lead at the near post before Koscielny cleared.
Arsenal have lost two home games in a trot ahead of a busy week, which will have them play matches against United, Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City.
At Old Trafford, United cruised into the last eight of the Capital One Cup with Hernandez scoring twice.
The Premier League champions were one-goal up at the interval, thanks to a Chicharito penalty after United’s fast-rising teenager Adnan Januzaj was brought down under a Leroy Fer’s challenge. The Mexican made no mistake from the spot, finding the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Chicharito got his second goal nine minutes into the interval from an Alex Buttner’s cross from the left, heading home at his second attempt in the game.
Phil Jones sealed what was a deserved victory for the ‘Red Devils’ two minutes from the dead, as his first-time finish flashed past goalkeeper Mark Bunn following a Januzaj assist.
Fabio then latched onto a Wayne Rooney lofted ball and steered his shot home to complete a 4-0 victory for United who have not lost in six matches.
Birmingham City 4- 4 Stoke City (2-4 Birmingham won after penalty shootout)
Burnley 0- 2 West Ham
Leicester City 4- 3 Fulham