by Rob Shepherd.
There was a time when Arsene Wenger used the League Cup sponsored by Capital One as a test lab for his young players.
But no longer.
Without any silverware since 2005 Wenger has increasingly taken the competition more seriously.
But The Gunners have lost the two finals they have reached since, in 2011 to Birmingham and 2007, yes to Chelsea.
That was the season when Mourinho left and Avram Grant ‘took over’ as manager – although most of the time it seemed the senior players ran the show, like Didier Drogba who terrorised the Gunners and scored the winner in that final.
This clash between Arsenal and Chelsea at The Emirates is the plum tie of the Capital One Cup Fourth Round.
One suspects the winners of this game can win the cup. Both are priced at 7-1 so now is the time to get on one or the other.
Wenger has indicated he will play a strong side. Chelsea may well rest John Terry and Frank Lampard. But with David Luiz and Juan Mata to come in it could be some game.
And Chelsea have a stronger heritage in the League Cup than the Gunners. The Blues have won it four times, only Manchester United and Aston Villa have won it more.
Arsenal have only won it twice, in ’87 and ’93 back in the George Graham era.
Interestingly Graham played for the Chelsea side that won the trophy for the first time in 1965 when they beat Leicester over two legs.
Bobby Tabling and Terry Venables scored for the Blues at the Bridge. But both times the goals were equalised until Eddie McCreadie went on a late dribble and beat Leicester’s keeper….Gordon Banks.
The second leg was a goal-less draw. The Chelsea manager ? Tommy Docherty.
Below are the highlights of Gianluca Vialli’s first game in charge of Chelsea, which was against Arsenal in the semi-final of the League Cup in 1998 – Watch out for a thunderbolt from Robbie Di Matteo.