Chelsea outguns Arsenal in draw for League Cup
Both teams rang the changes but it was Chelsea’s new-look side that gelled, restricting the hosts to a few sights of goal while consistently threatening on the break and finding the net through Spaniards Cesar Azpilicueta and Juan Mata.
It was a difficult night for Wenger, who feuded with the Chelsea boss during the Portuguese’s first spell in the Premier League with the West London side and has now not beaten Mourinho in nine attempts.
Manchester United will also be in the draw for the last eight after overcoming Norwich City, 4-0, with two goals from Mexican Javier Hernandez, but there was an upset for Premier League Fulham, who lost, 4-3, at second-tier Leicester City.
West Ham United beat Burnley, 2-0, in their tie with late penalties from Matt Taylor and Jack Collison, while spot kicks were needed to separate Stoke City and Birmingham City. After the match finished 3-3 and then 4-4 after extra time, top flight Stoke came through, 4-2, in the shootout.
Arsenal and Chelsea reminded everyone of the League Cup’s standing in the list of priorities by making 18 changes between them from their teams that played in the league at the weekend.
Wenger fielded a strong midfield with Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere marshaling the center circle, but they struggled to make an impact as Chelsea sat back, soaked up the pressure and looked to hit the hosts on the counter.
Mourinho’s side got their reward after 25 minutes when a swift Chelsea break ended with Azpilicueta nipping in to intercept a poor header back by Carl Jenkinson and poking the ball past onrushing goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski for the opener.
Arsenal, which has testing fixtures against Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund to come in the next eight days, were off the pace and struggled to conjure a chance with Welsh midfielder Ramsey firing their best effort wide just past the hour.
Arsenal’s Germany playmaker, Mesut Ozil, was summoned from the bench to inject creativity in the second half, but within seconds of his introduction Chelsea doubled their lead through Mata. The mercurial Spaniard, who has been on the fringes of Mourinho’s first-choice team all season, collected the ball on the edge of the area, controlled it neatly and then unleashed a drive into the net.
“The win is very important for our confidence; after beating Manchester City and now Arsenal this week, we feel strong because they are very good teams,” Mata told Sky Sports.