Arsene Wenger desperately in need of a result at Chelsea this evening

By Joanne Rivers

Stakes higher than they normally would be for a League Cup game

With Arsenal’s Christmas and New Year fixture pile-up now behind them, their involvement in the Carabao Cup semi-finals means the games are still coming thick and fast.

No handshake this evening… as Arsenal boss will be in the stand

That could be a blessing or a curse. A disastrous FA Cup exit away to a very young and managerless Nottingham Forest side, followed four matches over the festive period that only saw a solitary victory.

In mitigation, somehow the Gunners remained undefeated, but nevertheless, six points were dropped, and given two of the games were home fixtures against direct rivals for the Champions League qualifying spots, they could proved costly come May.

Arsene Wenger desperately needs a tonic, and although tonight’s match is in the competition he has cared least about in his 21 seasons in North London, a good result will go some way to halting the growing amount of criticism of the Arsenal manager. He will almost certainly field his strongest possible side, injuries allowing, given most of his first team had last weekend off, and that the next Premier League encounter does not take place until Sunday. The first leg of the semi has simply become more important than he would have liked it to be, so fielding a line-up typical of the earlier rounds of the competition is not an option.

At least Wenger does not have the added factor of Jose Mourinho in the Chelsea dugout. Antonio Conte has proved more respectful of his peers, with the exception of the aforementioned now Manchester United manager. The two have developed quite a history since Conte arrived in from Italy, and Arsene Wenger is probably privately thankful that Mourinho’s focus for personal abuse has now found new targets. The Arsenal manager’s current battle seems to be with the refereeing fraternity, hence he will have to watch the game tonight from the stands, due to a touchline ban for his critical comments towards Mike Dean after the match at West Brom on New Years' Eve.

Wenger and Conte do not seem to have developed any bad blood, and the Frenchman’s record against Chelsea since the Italian’s arrival has been respectable. In the league, the Gunners have lost once to the Stamford Bridge club, away last season. In the three other top flight encounters, Arsenal have won one and (this season) drawn two. Three other clashes have taken place, two won by Wenger’s team - The FA Cup Final and the Community Shield (albeit on a penalty shoot-out). Chelsea won the other, although it was only a pre-season friendly in China, against an Arsenal side that looked like it couldn’t wait to get the next flight back to the UK.

This is the first leg of a two-legged tie. Looking at the seats sold so far for the match on Arsenal’s ticketing website, one imagines the lower tier will sell out, with tickets costing a tenner for adults and £5 for kids and OAPs. The upper tier though, is currently fairly sparsely populated, and one imagines that is the second leg becomes academic after this evening’s game, it will remain so. And one suspects a good number of those who have invested in the cheaper seats might decide against using them.

There’s no question that Arsenal need a result this evening for a number of reasons, although the bookmakers do not fancy their chances. The best price for an Arsenal win is currently 9/2 (from Unibet), although a draw would be an excellent result, and you can get 31/10 on that (from BetVictor). Chelsea are odds on for the win, typically around 7/10. If you feel like backing Arsenal to get a result, you can choose a free bet no deposit to bet on Arsenal towards the upcoming game, which could turn you a healthy profit in the event they can better the 0-0 draw achieved at the same venue earlier this season. To qualify over the two legs, the bookies favour Conte’s team best priced 4/7, whereas you can get 6/4 on Arsenal being in the final at the end of February. On current form, those odds might be much longer by the end of this evening.

Betting odds will be the last thing on Arsene Wenger’s mind this evening, because a another humiliating defeat will pile even greater pressure on him, increasing the calls for him to depart a club that seems to be struggling to move forward under his guidance.

10th January 2018 09:12:12


Comments and Reaction

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Paulo75  9:39am 10th Jan 2018

I understand the sentiment Joanne but I don't think a League Cup Semi Final victory will arrest the slide and strengthen the Managers position - we are surely approaching the end game as far as Arsene's tenure is concerned. Chelsea were wasteful in front of goal last week and I fear they wont repeat the same mistake this time but you never know. We also have a number of injuries to deal with so although I hope for a positive result I wont be holding my breath. - Post No. 111721

MAF  9:45am 10th Jan 2018

desperately in need of being put out to retirement. this is a Report from yesterday: It will be the second time in under a year that Wenger is forced to watch his side take on Chelsea from the stands, having been forced to take in last season’s 3-1 defeat in close proximity to the home fans. '‘I was in the middle of the crowd. [It was] very uncomfortable,’ added Wenger. '‘It was not a pleasant experience. But at Chelsea you have to go on the other side to go in the directors’ box. So the time [it takes to] get around the stadium, it’s 10 minutes played. ‘I sat next to a guy. He says ‘Hello, how are you?’ And I said, ‘Good afternoon.’ He said, '‘I’m your gardener.’' And I didn’t know him.’ Beam me up Scotty this old fellow has completely lost the plot and is an embarassment to the club. - Post No. 111722

Roy  10:00am 10th Jan 2018

SEEMS to be ? SEEMS ? What about ' absolutely, definitely, utterly, without a shadow of doubt, hasn't moved forward under his guidance for the last decade ?' Even though he just has to ensure that we are still in the tie after tonight, you are right when you say that following Sundays debacle he will have to field his strongest possible side, something he probably wasn't planning to do. However, my belief is that we'll be exposed by the same old defensive deficiencies that Wenger refuses to address whatever the personnel. Let's hope they can score a couple and ride their luck a bit at the back, because that's the only way we win games these days. Wenger out. - Post No. 111723

The Man From UNCLE  10:27am 10th Jan 2018

What is this article? An honest assessment going into tonight's game or free publicity for a gaming site? As for the game, the esteemed one seems to have a habit of pulling rabbits out of a hat when necessary -don't be surprised with a result. - Post No. 111724

Bard  10:54am 10th Jan 2018

Joanne haven't read any of your contributions before. I dont know how much you read stuff on here but most have done with Wenger a long while ago. His effective reign ended years ago. Its just one very long goodbye. Whether we win or lose tonight will make nil difference. - Post No. 111725

peter wain  11:21am 10th Jan 2018

it is difficult to see anything but a Chelski win. We have such a weak and divided squad that any draw would be a fabulous result. - Post No. 111726

Yes its Ron  12:18pm 10th Jan 2018

In his mind he doesn't need a win. Arsenal wont be too fussed if Chelsea cane them and Wenger certainly wont. Wengos under no pressure. He ll pick a team thats stronger on the face of it to that which he used at NF, but best not to be fooled by that, its part of the window dressing that Wengo and Arsenal thrive and survive on to make fans think they care about such tournaments. - Post No. 111727

Exeter Ex  13:56pm 10th Jan 2018

I thought Joan Rivers was dead. - Post No. 111729

Arseneknewbest  13:58pm 10th Jan 2018

In other words.....Here's a really lazy rehash of football **** over Christmas, why not have a bet on tonight's game because I'm on a commission. - Post No. 111730

MAF  14:21pm 10th Jan 2018

Manchester papers say Alexis deal is done. I really cannot blame him for wanting to leave the house of mad king wenger. he totally lost faith in wenger in the end and for that he is not wrong. - Post No. 111731

Seven Kings Gooner1  14:34pm 10th Jan 2018

With Alexis deal done, it's a bit like the early 80's when we lost Brady, the guy who made the goal chances and Stapleton, the guy who scored the goals - Ozil next. - Post No. 111732

mbg  15:12pm 10th Jan 2018

So you think one solitary victory in a Cup that nobody can pronounce, and wenger has treated with distain all his life will halt or go some way to halting the growing criticism (and growing more than ever)against him ? where have you been living ? on a mountain with a few other mountain men with no electricity and who just come down for a quick catch up now and again, it certainly will not it will make no difference whatsoever, if anything it will just do what any win or draw does now paper over the cracks until the next humiliation and embarrassment comes along, and which is never far away. This is just another typical win will leave everything rosey in the garden of wenger and his AKB's again, until the next time, any relation to Joan Rivers the stand up Comedienne ?. wenger out. - Post No. 111733

John F  15:12pm 10th Jan 2018

Just watched 89 with a range of emotions.The obvious pride but tinged with sadness at the state of our club now.When you watch the 89 team with its will to win,the preparation and tactics employed by GG you realise just what we are watching now,an unprepared leaderless team going through the motions in desperate need of clear out.Ian Wright at the end talking about Rocky ,what a legend. - Post No. 111734

mbg  15:40pm 10th Jan 2018

I see TOF is still trying to cover up and divert his FA Cup failures, bumming and blowing how many times he's won it, I've won seven times the FA Cup, nobody has won the FA Cup more than I did, blah blah, get somebody to win it more, blah, what an arrogant loser. wenger out now. - Post No. 111735

Wrinkly Voyeur  16:03pm 10th Jan 2018

well....errrrr.....overall Joanne....errrr do you still leetle beet belieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeve? - Post No. 111736

Paulward  17:06pm 10th Jan 2018

Think they’ll get stuffed 3 or 4 , can’t see Chelsea missing as many chances as last week. Wengers only hope is a run in the Europa league, which is possible if he has a fully fit squad and a favourable draw. - Post No. 111737

Offside  18:49pm 10th Jan 2018

It's so funny (and pathetic) that the League Cup, a competition that Wenger has never care about and used to breed his "wonderkids" (most of whom never ever made it) is now being trumpeted as his potential salvation. - Post No. 111738

markymark  20:25pm 10th Jan 2018

Wrinkly Voyeur - where have you been? Good to have you back! All we need now is the return of the Dandy Mod. Interesting news re Ancelotti . He is moving back to set up family home in London. The Standard is running a teaser article. - Post No. 111739

mbg  22:05pm 10th Jan 2018

Offside, yes indeed funny and pathetic how these comps that the weasel and his wengerites have treated with disdain for years are suddenly the bees knees and the best thing since sliced bread with them both, and again may savehis skinny arse, you couldn't make it up. wenger out tonight. - Post No. 111740

Cyril  23:06pm 10th Jan 2018

We have been reduced to competing for the LC. They can’t get the ball down into def mid. Terrible. This is a great English club with tyrannical people who are in charge. It will take years to get back to normal. If ever... - Post No. 111741

mbg  23:36pm 10th Jan 2018

I wonder did the old fraud remember to take his tonic tonight it's giving it very cold in the morning, and he's pale enough. wenger out. - Post No. 111742

Moscowgooner  7:51am 11th Jan 2018

Well if we can't sell out the Emirates for the Chelsea game - I assume they'll bring 9000? - given the first leg result, we are in a deeper malaise that I imagined. After all what other silverware do we now have a serious shot at? (Please don't say the Europa!) Bristol City in the final? A repeat of Swindon 1969......? Team selection last night once again a mystery. Very sad about Jack - the one guy who cares. Hope this injury won't rule him out of the World Cup. Club issues aside would love to see him perform on the global stage and prove all the sceptics wrong. (If he smokes a fag or two (and enjoys a bevy), fine with me. Particularly if it gets under AW's skin. Better than the clean cut Theo who delivers nothing.) - Post No. 111743

Rippy  9:03am 11th Jan 2018

When we didn’t qualify for the CL I said that money would be made back up. Now it’s looking less likely again this season I would expect another ratchet down on expenses. Coq being sold is just another money grabbing event. With the injuries it doesn’t make sense. Even if he was very limited. I think we are about to go down the kid route again. Although I see nothing special about this new set at all. Possibly one might make it at a top club. We will now see another 50 mill recuperated and the wage bill Will fall. Kroenke is struggling in the states presently to get the stadium built. Arsenal are collateral in that deal. 100% guaranteed. The best we can hope for is another manager coming in and changing the style. Then punching above the teams wage bill in results. Like graham and Wenger at the beginning. It’s not impossible the revenues should keep us top 6 despite the awful ownership. I fear we are now where Stan wants to be. A cup side maximising returns on a lower wage bill Europa football and milking the loyal support for what it’s worth. Winning means bonuses and expectations of huge transfer deals. Not good for profits. And arsenal needs to be stable until the LA project is completed . In 4 years ..... - Post No. 111745

Issue #269 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

15th January 2018

Being muscled off the ball by Bournemouth is like being mugged by your grandma

Online Ed: Another poor Arsenal display on the road just another signpost as we near the end of the Wenger era