Arsenal vs. Chelsea: Five Things We Learned As Wenger's Team Reach League Cup Final

Arsenal came from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1 on Wednesday (January 24) and book their place in next month's League Cup final where they will meet Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

Chelsea had gone ahead early in the game with Eden Hazard scoring as the visitors dominated for much of the first-half, but Arsene Wenger's team turned the tie around.

Arsenal equalized four minutes after going behind when Nacho Monreal's header rebounded off Marcos Alonso and, then, Antonio Rudiger and past Willy Caballero.

On the hour mark, Alexandre Lacazette's deflected cross fell to Granit Xhaka who pounced to prod past Caballero and send Arsenal to Wembley. Here, Newsweek takes a look at five things we learned from the game at the Emirates Stadium:

Wenger's Arsenal Ground it Out

It's not a trait that has been regularly associated with Arsene Wenger's Arsenal over the past 22 years he has been in North London. But, at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night, Arsenal managed their lead against Chelsea, holding Antonio Conte's team at arms length, and eased toward the final of the League Cup. Wenger's team showed resilience and steel, holding their nerve. In the end, they got their reward as they booked a place at Wembley on February 25.

Where Will Henrikh Mhitaryan Fit In?

Having featured for Manchester United at an earlier stage in this competition, Mkhitaryan's first appearance at the Emirates Stadium as an Arsenal player was sat in the stands. Cup-tied, the Armenian watched on at the type of game he will want to be involved in for Arsenal over the next few years—competing to be in finals. But possibly not the style of game.

Arsenal were sloppy in possession for much of the game, lacking their characteristic zip of pass. Mkhitaryan would have looked at the forward line and wondered where he will fit in. Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette are unlikely to be dropped, while Alex Iwobi's form continues its ascent.

Nacho Monreal
Nacho Monreal at Emirates Stadium, London, January 24. Monreal equalizes for Arsenal in the League Cup semifinal. Julian Finney/Getty

Hazard Shines But Misses Target Man

After Chelsea dazzled Brighton on the south coast on Saturday (January 20) with a 4-0 victory, Eden Hazard almost laughed off his club's intentions this month. Chelsea, it is becoming increasingly clear, are after a big striker with an aerial threat. Andy Carroll was linked with a move. Peter Crouch, too.

Now, the West London club is supposed to be in talks with Roma over a move for Edin Dzeko. "Football is simple," Hazard said at the Amex Stadium. "Keep the ball on the ground and try [to play] like we did."

Hazard's point appeared to be made when he opened the scoring seven minutes into the game after being played in by Pedro. But, as Chelsea fell behind, Conte's team were short of a Plan B. They missed the aerial presence of the injured, suspended and out-of-form Alvaro Morata. Dzeko would, undoubtedly, be a welcome relief for Conte—if not for Hazard.

Rusty Ross Adds Power to Chelsea Midfield

It was not in the way he had hoped to make his debut. Midway through the first-half, Willian went down clasping the back of his leg and would not continue. In his place, Conte sent on Ross Barkley to make his debut for Chelsea after making a £15 million switch from Everton.

It was his first game of the season, and it showed. In stoppage time of the first-half, he picked up the ball in Arsenal's half, unmarked, with space to run into. The head went down and Barkley drove forward with the kind of run England fans have got excited over. But his pass was loose and Chelsea lost possession.

What Barkley certainly did bring was strength and size to Conte's midfield. Alongside Tiemoue Bakayoko and N'Golo Kante, Barkley has the energy Cesc Fabregas lacks and the power.

FA Cup May Be Chelsea's Only Hope Now

Sunday has suddenly become a very important game for Chelsea's season. Rafa Benitez's Newcastle travel to Stamford Bridge for their fourth round FA Cup tie, which may end up being Conte's only realistic piece of silverware this season.

Next month, Chelsea come up against La Liga's runaway leaders Barcelona in the last-16 of the Champions League, going into the game as underdogs.

With many believing Conte's time at Stamford Bridge is likely to be up, Chelsea's season is relying on Sunday's FA Cup tie.