WHAT: Fourth Round, Capital One Cup
WHERE: Emirates stadium, North London
WHEN: Tuesday, October 29, 2013. 20:45 UK time?
Roughly 48 hours after beating Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will travel to north London to take on a very good and in-form Arsenal team in the Capital One Cup.
It was the kind of fixture Didier Drogba loved, often being the deciding factor during his time at Chelsea.
The victory over Manchester City made it FIVE consecutive wins in all competitions for Jose Mourinho's Chelsea army. Three of the five wins were away from home (Norwich, Steaua, Schalke). That's impressive record on the road.
Arsenal on the other hand defeated Crystal Palace at home 2-0 after losing 1-2 to a strong Dortmund side. In all competitions, Arsenal have lost only twice at home this season ( Aston Villa, Borrusia Dortmund) but they have not lost away from home. Chelsea have lost an away match only once this season ( Everton ) and once at home too ( Basel ).
It's more than a game, It's a derby, the two biggest teams in London will battle for bragging rights. There's also prospect of winning the cup to build momentum and create good atmosphere within the squad while the season is still on.
Playing Manchester City and Arsenal in two days means Chelsea have to rotate the team.
"We are going to give the game that the people who put the game on Tuesday want. If they want a big game, we cannot give a big game. If they want the players that were playing today, we cannot give them that."
- Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho also took a swipe at the governing body and at Arsenal. Mind games? The scheduling is bad really and Mourinho hinted at conspiracy.
"If they want Arsenal to win a trophy, that's a help, because if they want a big game between two big teams in London they should put the game on Wednesday and not on Tuesday. I'm not going to give them that. They played at 12:30 yesterday, so two and a half days to rest and prepare. So yes, I hope they all enjoy it. We are going to try and do our job, and we will do our job the best we can."
- Jose Mourinho
These players started against Manchester City. Willian, John Obi Mikel and Samuel Eto'o came off the bench.
Chelsea's best player in the last two years, Juan Mata sat out the last two games, he didn't even come off the bench. This time around, the fans didn't get much upset but might lose their patience if he doesn't start this time.
Only Ramires and Gary Cahill started against Manchester City of the players I selected. Willian, Samuel Eto'o and John Obi Mikel came on in the second-half against City.
Jose Mourinho talked about Ramires's energy before. Ramires is the kind of player that can run around the pitch for 120 minutes at one stretch. Few hours of rest will be more than enough for him to get out there again in a game Chelsea might need his bravery.
Almost every player in my eleven will be looking to prove something to the manager. I feel Michael Essien deserves to play too. Demba Ba? NO!
BENCH: Hilario, Kenneth Omeruo, Michael Essien, Oscar, Eden Hazard, Andre Schurrle, Fernando Torres.
PEEP INTO THE ENEMY'S CAMP
Arsenal have performed above everyone's expectation this season. The North London side are currently top of the Premier League, two points ahead of second placed Chelsea.
They have done well, they have won games but they have not been invincible or unbeatable. Arsenal lost their opening match of the season against Aston Villa before starting a winning streak that ended against West Bromwich (1-1).
Arsenal play in a similar shape to Chelsea, (4-2-3-1). The arrival of Mesut Ozil has given the gunners more belief and energy. Aaron Ramsey has been in great form, scoring and creating goals. But Arsenal will lack a real presence in midfield, Flamini is injured and Mikel Arteta is suspended after getting sent off against Palace.
"I will rotate against Chelsea, but play with a team that has a good chance to qualify,"
- Arsene Wenger
As Mourinho stylishly pointed out, Arsenal haven't won a trophy for some time. That's why I believe Arsene Wenger will play his best team. Mourinho also pointed out that they have had time to rest.
In the end, the midfield might be key for Chelsea. Mesut Ozil is Arsenal's best player, Santi Cazorla as we all know is a brilliant player but winning the midfield war will ensure that Arsenal's most dangerous players have less time on the ball.
KEY PLAYER: JUAN "FURIOUS" MATA
Arsenal can't count themselves lucky to be facing Chelsea and Juan Mata at this time. Juan Mata is an exceptional player but Arsenal are about to try and stop an "angry and hungry" Juan Mata.
Juan Mata didn't play a minute against any of Schalke and Manchester City. The implication is that the manager doesn't think he's a player for the big games. That will surely annoy the little Spanish wizard.
He has spent just over two seasons at Chelsea but Arsenal fans are already familiar with his name. Mata scored in his first game against Arsenal for Chelsea, a good goal too even though the blues went on to lose that game. He scored against Arsenal last season in both fixtures, a free kick and one poacher's effort. Three goals and one assist against Arsenal in four games. Juan Mata doesn't seem to like Arsenal much.
All these convinced me Juan Mata will be Chelsea's key player against Arsenal. Arsenal are big opposition too and if Juan Mata leads Chelsea to victory over them, it will become harder for Jose Mourinho to keep overlooking him for the top games.
PREDICTION: Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea
With the way Arsenal have played this season, this prediction looks too bold and maybe out of reach. But then, that's why its a prediction.
Arsenal have not failed to score in any game this season. I don't even know why I think Chelsea will keep a clean sheet. I also see the two goals coming after the standard 90 minutes. Why do I picture a player seeing red? I hope it's an Arsenal player.
The thing with derbies is, form doesn't make much difference. Chelsea just need to go out there with that "Mourinho" spirit "We cannot lose".