Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest slideshow

Ben Osborn hails Aitor Karanka's impact at Nottingham Forest after victory at Wolves

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ben Osborn believes that Aitor Karanka’s influence may prove to be the catalyst for a charge towards the Championship play-off positions. Karanka presided over a defeat to promotion hopefuls Aston Villa last weekend in his first fixture in charge at the City Ground but has already applied changes to the club’s training regime in an attempt to elevate intensity levels and expectations, with Osborn describing the club's plight as “sickening”. There are immediate signs though that the Spaniard’s exacting nature may help to remedy the situation. Forest’s 2-0 victory over Wolves, their first in seven league outings lifted them to 14th in the table. And despite the eleven point gap to the top six, Osborn, who thrashed an impressive second goal to add to Kieran Dowell’s deflected opener, insists that ambitions of constructing a run to propel Forest into contention during their remaining 18 fixtures have now been revived. “It’s been done before,” Osborn said. "Teams have gone on runs out of nowhere. There is always that fifth or sixth place where people sneak in. Let's just say I’m not booking my holidays yet for after May 7th. Nottingham Forest's Ben Osborn celebrates with their travelling fans at full time Credit: PA “A few wins or a few losses in the Championship either way can move you dramatically in the table. We need a bit of consistency, to make sure everyone buys into the same thing and to put a run together. This should give us massive belief that we can do it” Regardless of this blip, Wolves retain a healthy nine-point advantage at the summit of the division. However, when asked, their head coach, Nuno Espirito Santo, admitted that he had issued a rebuke to his players for dropping their standards during their first defeat in 13 league matches. “Of course, nobody can relax here,” he said. “I’m responsible for maybe not telling the boys that we still have a long, long way to go.”

Ben Osborn hails Aitor Karanka's impact at Nottingham Forest after victory at Wolves

Ben Osborn hails Aitor Karanka's impact at Nottingham Forest after victory at Wolves

Ben Osborn hails Aitor Karanka's impact at Nottingham Forest after victory at Wolves

Ben Osborn hails Aitor Karanka's impact at Nottingham Forest after victory at Wolves

Ben Osborn hails Aitor Karanka's impact at Nottingham Forest after victory at Wolves

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ben Osborn believes that Aitor Karanka’s influence may prove to be the catalyst for a charge towards the Championship play-off positions. Karanka presided over a defeat to promotion hopefuls Aston Villa last weekend in his first fixture in charge at the City Ground but has already applied changes to the club’s training regime in an attempt to elevate intensity levels and expectations, with Osborn describing the club's plight as “sickening”. There are immediate signs though that the Spaniard’s exacting nature may help to remedy the situation. Forest’s 2-0 victory over Wolves, their first in seven league outings lifted them to 14th in the table. And despite the eleven point gap to the top six, Osborn, who thrashed an impressive second goal to add to Kieran Dowell’s deflected opener, insists that ambitions of constructing a run to propel Forest into contention during their remaining 18 fixtures have now been revived. “It’s been done before,” Osborn said. "Teams have gone on runs out of nowhere. There is always that fifth or sixth place where people sneak in. Let's just say I’m not booking my holidays yet for after May 7th. Nottingham Forest's Ben Osborn celebrates with their travelling fans at full time Credit: PA “A few wins or a few losses in the Championship either way can move you dramatically in the table. We need a bit of consistency, to make sure everyone buys into the same thing and to put a run together. This should give us massive belief that we can do it” Regardless of this blip, Wolves retain a healthy nine-point advantage at the summit of the division. However, when asked, their head coach, Nuno Espirito Santo, admitted that he had issued a rebuke to his players for dropping their standards during their first defeat in 13 league matches. “Of course, nobody can relax here,” he said. “I’m responsible for maybe not telling the boys that we still have a long, long way to go.”

Championship - Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Nottingham Forest

Soccer Football - Championship - Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Nottingham Forest - Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton, Britain - January 20, 2018 Wolves' Ruben Neves speaks with referee Bobby Madley after Nottingham Forest's Kieran Dowell scored their first goal Action Images/Andrew Boyers

Championship - Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Nottingham Forest

Soccer Football - Championship - Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Nottingham Forest - Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton, Britain - January 20, 2018 Nottingham Forest's Ben Osborn celebrates scoring their second goal with Danny Fox Action Images/Andrew Boyers

Championship - Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Nottingham Forest

Soccer Football - Championship - Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Nottingham Forest - Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton, Britain - January 20, 2018 Nottingham Forest's Kieran Dowell in action with Wolves' Diogo Jose Teixeira Da Silva Action Images/Andrew Boyers

Arsene Wenger branded referee Mike Dean 'dishonest' and a 'disgrace' in heated row after West Brom match

Arsene Wenger accused referee Mike Dean of dishonesty and branded him “a disgrace” after Arsenal’s controversial draw at West Bromwich Albion, the Football Association has revealed. Wenger confronted Dean after West Brom were awarded a late penalty at the Hawthorns during the sides’ Premier League match on New Year’s Eve, with Jay Rodriguez converting the spot-kick to secure the Midland side a 1-1 draw. The Arsenal manager launched a withering attack on Dean after the game, with the penalty awarded after a contentious handball by Calum Chambers, in which he bemoaned the standard of refereeing. He said: “Many years ago [former Arsenal vice-chairman] David Dein and myself fought hard for referees to become professional and they do a good job, but don’t work enough. I believe we fought hard to win the game, but didn’t because of a bad decision.” Wenger was handed a three-match touchline ban and fined £40,000 by the FA and in the written reasons for that decision, published last night, they reveal the extent of his anger with Dean as the pair clashed in the referee’s room after the final whistle. This included: Wenger jabbing his finger at Dean as he accused him of “not being honest”. The manager calling Dean “a disgrace” and suggesting he was guilty of habitually giving poor decisions against Arsenal. Wenger having to be ushered away by a West Brom steward. Wenger’s questioning of Dean’s integrity, and his use of abusive and inappropriate language, ensured that he was handed a touchline ban rather than being given a fine, although he avoided a stadium ban. In his incident report, Dean wrote: “As we’ve entered the dressing room after the game Mr Wenger stood behind us in the doorway and told the West Brom steward to ‘let him in’. He was very aggressive leaning towards me, pointing aggressively at me saying, ‘You’re not honest’ on numerous occasions. I replied, ‘So you’re calling me a cheat’. He replied, ‘I maintain what I say, you’re not honest’. “He then said, ‘You’ve done this to us many times before, you’re supposed to be professional, you’re a disgrace’. He was then ushered out of the room by the West Brom safety officer.” Arsene Wenger was furious with Mike Dean Credit: ACTION IMAGES Dean’s version of events was corroborated by his two assistant referees: Simon Long – who called Wenger’s behaviour “aggressive” and said he had spoken to Dean in a “raised voice” – and Ian Hussin, as well as the fourth official, Christopher Kavanagh, who were all present in the room. Wenger was absent from the touchline for Arsenal’s games against Nottingham Forest, Chelsea and Bournemouth, none of which his side won. An independent panel, chaired by Gareth Farrelly, unanimously agreed on a three-match ban, after initially considering a four-match suspension. The commission stated: “There is no justification for this behaviour.” The panel considered a full stadium ban but “agreed it was not warranted in this case”. Wenger was also warned about his comments before and after the Chelsea game on January 3. He had described disputed refereeing decisions as “concerning coincidences”. It is the second time in 12 months that Wenger has been punished with a touchline ban. Last January, he was suspended for four matches and fined £25,000 for his behaviour in a victory over Burnley. That time, Wenger was charged with verbally abusing and pushing fourth official Anthony Taylor after being sent off. Meanwhile, it has emerged that Gaetan Bong, the Brighton defender, was interviewed by FA officials on Tuesday as the inquiry into the row with Jay Rodriguez gets under way. Bong has alleged he was racially abused by the West Bromwich forward during the game at the Hawthorns on Saturday. Rodriguez, who denies the allegations, will meet FA officials in London next week.

Arsene Wenger branded referee Mike Dean 'dishonest' and a 'disgrace' in heated row after West Brom match

Arsene Wenger accused referee Mike Dean of dishonesty and branded him “a disgrace” after Arsenal’s controversial draw at West Bromwich Albion, the Football Association has revealed. Wenger confronted Dean after West Brom were awarded a late penalty at the Hawthorns during the sides’ Premier League match on New Year’s Eve, with Jay Rodriguez converting the spot-kick to secure the Midland side a 1-1 draw. The Arsenal manager launched a withering attack on Dean after the game, with the penalty awarded after a contentious handball by Calum Chambers, in which he bemoaned the standard of refereeing. He said: “Many years ago [former Arsenal vice-chairman] David Dein and myself fought hard for referees to become professional and they do a good job, but don’t work enough. I believe we fought hard to win the game, but didn’t because of a bad decision.” Wenger was handed a three-match touchline ban and fined £40,000 by the FA and in the written reasons for that decision, published last night, they reveal the extent of his anger with Dean as the pair clashed in the referee’s room after the final whistle. This included: Wenger jabbing his finger at Dean as he accused him of “not being honest”. The manager calling Dean “a disgrace” and suggesting he was guilty of habitually giving poor decisions against Arsenal. Wenger having to be ushered away by a West Brom steward. Wenger’s questioning of Dean’s integrity, and his use of abusive and inappropriate language, ensured that he was handed a touchline ban rather than being given a fine, although he avoided a stadium ban. In his incident report, Dean wrote: “As we’ve entered the dressing room after the game Mr Wenger stood behind us in the doorway and told the West Brom steward to ‘let him in’. He was very aggressive leaning towards me, pointing aggressively at me saying, ‘You’re not honest’ on numerous occasions. I replied, ‘So you’re calling me a cheat’. He replied, ‘I maintain what I say, you’re not honest’. “He then said, ‘You’ve done this to us many times before, you’re supposed to be professional, you’re a disgrace’. He was then ushered out of the room by the West Brom safety officer.” Arsene Wenger was furious with Mike Dean Credit: ACTION IMAGES Dean’s version of events was corroborated by his two assistant referees: Simon Long – who called Wenger’s behaviour “aggressive” and said he had spoken to Dean in a “raised voice” – and Ian Hussin, as well as the fourth official, Christopher Kavanagh, who were all present in the room. Wenger was absent from the touchline for Arsenal’s games against Nottingham Forest, Chelsea and Bournemouth, none of which his side won. An independent panel, chaired by Gareth Farrelly, unanimously agreed on a three-match ban, after initially considering a four-match suspension. The commission stated: “There is no justification for this behaviour.” The panel considered a full stadium ban but “agreed it was not warranted in this case”. Wenger was also warned about his comments before and after the Chelsea game on January 3. He had described disputed refereeing decisions as “concerning coincidences”. It is the second time in 12 months that Wenger has been punished with a touchline ban. Last January, he was suspended for four matches and fined £25,000 for his behaviour in a victory over Burnley. That time, Wenger was charged with verbally abusing and pushing fourth official Anthony Taylor after being sent off. Meanwhile, it has emerged that Gaetan Bong, the Brighton defender, was interviewed by FA officials on Tuesday as the inquiry into the row with Jay Rodriguez gets under way. Bong has alleged he was racially abused by the West Bromwich forward during the game at the Hawthorns on Saturday. Rodriguez, who denies the allegations, will meet FA officials in London next week.

Aston Villa’s Scott Hogan sends confident message to Steve Bruce

Scott Hogan celebrates his winner at Nottingham Forest. ‘I have scored goals wherever I’ve been and the stats back that up,’ he said.

Scott Hogan strike spoils Aitor Karanka’s start with Nottingham Forest

Scott Hogan strike spoils Aitor Karanka’s start with Nottingham Forest

Scott Hogan strike spoils Aitor Karanka’s start with Nottingham Forest

Scott Hogan celebrates scoring Aston Villa’s winner against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.

Nottingham Forest 0 Aston Villa 1: FA Cup euphoria short-lived for Forest as Aitor Karanka learns scale of the job

Nottingham Forest 0 Aston Villa 1: FA Cup euphoria short-lived for Forest as Aitor Karanka learns scale of the job

What's wrong with Alexandre Lacazette, Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku - the Premier League's misfiring marquee strikers?

In the summer of 2016, with the arrivals of Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho to revive three flailing Premier League behemoths, the age of the supercoach dawned. 12 months later, it was time to base pre-season predictions on the marquee centre-forwards at each of the title contenders. Would Harry Kane be able to maintain his position as the league's best striker with nearly £200 million spent on new No 9s at Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, while City still had Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus to rely on and Liverpool Roberto Firmino? The form of the centre-forwards, it was thought, would define the season. History tells us there is no guaranteeing a big-money signing up front will hit the ground running, even if they have succeeded elsewhere; see Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll. There is even greater chance of failure when new to the Premier League. But credit where credit's due: Alvaro Morata, Alexandre Lacazette and Romelu Lukaku all made impressive starts to life at their new clubs. All three scored on their debuts, netted again within their first few weeks and by the end of September each had scored a brace or a hat-trick in a Premier League game. At that stage of the season, Lacazette had four goals in six games; Morata six in seven; Lukaku seven in seven. Since, however, while Kane and Mo Salah have continued to score at almost a goal a game, it has been a rather different story for these three. What's wrong with Premier League's marquee strikers? After scoring a combined 17 goals in 20 games before September was out, they have just 11 in 42 appearances from October 1 onwards, and have found the New Year even tougher. Lukaku is currently on a run of 257 minutes, or four hours 17 mins, without a Premier League goal and has scored just three in his last 14 appearances. Morata is 205 minutes, or 3 hrs 25 mins, without a goal, and has scored twice in his last eight games. Lacazette has played a whopping 529 minutes - eight hours and 49 minutes - since his last league goal. The Frenchman took his drought in all competitions to nearly 10 hours with a fruitless display in the League Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea this week. All three remain top class forwards, but what has been simultaneously going wrong for them over recent months - and can we expect the slumps to continue or an imminent up-turn in form? Romelu Lukaku A goal against a worn-down Derby in the 90th minute of their FA Cup meeting last week gave Lukaku a welcome break from analysis of his form, but he is still some way off a return to the rate of scoring at which he began his United career. Forget his widely-discussed travails against the big clubs: Lukaku was recruited to try and provide the difference in games against lesser teams that United of last season were drawing games against. Lukaku has been struggling for form  Credit: AFP The Belgian has done his job that regard frequently, even in more recent weeks when his goal-scoring has slowed, scoring the odd goal in wins against Bournemouth and West Brom, as well as CSKA Moscow in the Champions League. However, persevered with up front given Mourinho's mistrust of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial as central strikers and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's fitness concerns, Lukaku has become an all too peripheral figure on the pitch, drifting out of games and struggling to link play with midfield quite like he did earlier in the season. His confidence is down and he looks tired. The consequence has been worryingly few sights of goal. Since his last Premier League goal - at the Hawthorns on 17 December - Lukaku has had a miserly four attempts on goal. That's one every 64 minutes he has played and not a single one of them has hit the target. Prior to that goal, he was having a shot every 27 minutes.  Romelu Lukaku | Premier League 2017/18 In truth, Mourinho has more than enough options to give Lukaku a break, and being dropped could be the catalyst to rediscovering his form. Clearly Lukaku needs reinvigorating rather than just persistent selection. We've seen Mourinho coax the best from Lukaku already; the Belgian could do with his manager's help again now. Alexandre Lacazette The first time Lacazette played with both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, it looked like a match made in heaven. Now, however, their time together looks like it will be cut short with Sanchez angling for a move away from the Emirates, and the Chilean's inconsistent form has seen his team-mates suffer; and none more so than Lacazette. His link-play has remained sound and he has continuously looked threatening. He has picked up a couple of crucial assists in recent weeks - in the 3-2 win at Crystal Palace and in the 3-3 draw with Liverpool - and is having shots as often as he was earlier in the season, but just isn't finding the corner of the net as well as he had been. David De Gea's performance at Arsenal made a significant contribution to Lacazette's drought Credit: Reuters He has recently found David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois in inspired form at the Emirates, and was unfortunate not to find himself on the scoresheet against both. He has been less effective in front of goal all season than both Lukaku and Morata, scoring nearly two goals fewer than his 'expected goal' tally, while the other two have scored roughly what the data says they should have. [For more on 'Expected goals' see our explainer, here.] Expected goals That is, the average Premier League striker would score 9.79 goals from the chances that Lacazette has had this season; he has actually scored only eight. Morata has scored 10 from chances worth exactly the same number of 'expected goals'. This may suggest Lacazette is not the world class, clinical, complete No 9 Arsenal so craved and thought they were buying in the summer. Olivier Giroud's injury and Sanchez's wandering mind have given Lacazette too great a burden to carry himself, and he could do with some help from elsewhere in the team. But at the same time, 10 hours without a goal isn't good enough for a £50m-plus striker, and there remain significant improvements to be made to his game. Alvaro Morata It hasn't been all that long since Morata scored, but there has been a stark difference between the player Chelsea signed and the one who has led the line in recent weeks. There are no two ways about it: his catalogue of glaring misses in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal cost Chelsea the game and with it two potentially vital points. In the League Cup this week, he looked off the pace and barely troubled an Arsenal back three that contained Rob Holding, who had been run ragged by Nottingham Forest's forward line only a few days earlier. He isn't striking the ball anything like as confidently as earlier in the season, and it seems to be preying on his mind. Morata wasted three good chances at the Emirates Credit: Reuters Plenty of Chelsea's opponents have sought to cut off the supply line from Cesar Azpilicueta, who has assists for six Morata goals, making them, surprisingly, the best such combination in any of Europe's five major leagues. Antonio Conte has managed Morata well, restricting his game time despite not feeling able to rely on back-up Michy Batshuayi, instead choosing to play Eden Hazard as a 'false nine' on occasion. Morata has played fewer minues than either Lukaku or Lacazette, and so should go into the second half of the season most fresh of the three. That said, he looks tired and troubled at the moment, perhaps struggling with his first season without a winter break, in rather colder climes than he would have lived with before. There is also the fact that this is the first season of his career in which he has been the first choice forward, and the both he and Conte, could do with another trusted option up top.

What's wrong with Alexandre Lacazette, Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku - the Premier League's misfiring marquee strikers?

In the summer of 2016, with the arrivals of Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho to revive three flailing Premier League behemoths, the age of the supercoach dawned. 12 months later, it was time to base pre-season predictions on the marquee centre-forwards at each of the title contenders. Would Harry Kane be able to maintain his position as the league's best striker with nearly £200 million spent on new No 9s at Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, while City still had Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus to rely on and Liverpool Roberto Firmino? The form of the centre-forwards, it was thought, would define the season. History tells us there is no guaranteeing a big-money signing up front will hit the ground running, even if they have succeeded elsewhere; see Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll. There is even greater chance of failure when new to the Premier League. But credit where credit's due: Alvaro Morata, Alexandre Lacazette and Romelu Lukaku all made impressive starts to life at their new clubs. All three scored on their debuts, netted again within their first few weeks and by the end of September each had scored a brace or a hat-trick in a Premier League game. At that stage of the season, Lacazette had four goals in six games; Morata six in seven; Lukaku seven in seven. Since, however, while Kane and Mo Salah have continued to score at almost a goal a game, it has been a rather different story for these three. What's wrong with Premier League's marquee strikers? After scoring a combined 17 goals in 20 games before September was out, they have just 11 in 42 appearances from October 1 onwards, and have found the New Year even tougher. Lukaku is currently on a run of 257 minutes, or four hours 17 mins, without a Premier League goal and has scored just three in his last 14 appearances. Morata is 205 minutes, or 3 hrs 25 mins, without a goal, and has scored twice in his last eight games. Lacazette has played a whopping 529 minutes - eight hours and 49 minutes - since his last league goal. The Frenchman took his drought in all competitions to nearly 10 hours with a fruitless display in the League Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea this week. All three remain top class forwards, but what has been simultaneously going wrong for them over recent months - and can we expect the slumps to continue or an imminent up-turn in form? Romelu Lukaku A goal against a worn-down Derby in the 90th minute of their FA Cup meeting last week gave Lukaku a welcome break from analysis of his form, but he is still some way off a return to the rate of scoring at which he began his United career. Forget his widely-discussed travails against the big clubs: Lukaku was recruited to try and provide the difference in games against lesser teams that United of last season were drawing games against. Lukaku has been struggling for form  Credit: AFP The Belgian has done his job that regard frequently, even in more recent weeks when his goal-scoring has slowed, scoring the odd goal in wins against Bournemouth and West Brom, as well as CSKA Moscow in the Champions League. However, persevered with up front given Mourinho's mistrust of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial as central strikers and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's fitness concerns, Lukaku has become an all too peripheral figure on the pitch, drifting out of games and struggling to link play with midfield quite like he did earlier in the season. His confidence is down and he looks tired. The consequence has been worryingly few sights of goal. Since his last Premier League goal - at the Hawthorns on 17 December - Lukaku has had a miserly four attempts on goal. That's one every 64 minutes he has played and not a single one of them has hit the target. Prior to that goal, he was having a shot every 27 minutes.  Romelu Lukaku | Premier League 2017/18 In truth, Mourinho has more than enough options to give Lukaku a break, and being dropped could be the catalyst to rediscovering his form. Clearly Lukaku needs reinvigorating rather than just persistent selection. We've seen Mourinho coax the best from Lukaku already; the Belgian could do with his manager's help again now. Alexandre Lacazette The first time Lacazette played with both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, it looked like a match made in heaven. Now, however, their time together looks like it will be cut short with Sanchez angling for a move away from the Emirates, and the Chilean's inconsistent form has seen his team-mates suffer; and none more so than Lacazette. His link-play has remained sound and he has continuously looked threatening. He has picked up a couple of crucial assists in recent weeks - in the 3-2 win at Crystal Palace and in the 3-3 draw with Liverpool - and is having shots as often as he was earlier in the season, but just isn't finding the corner of the net as well as he had been. David De Gea's performance at Arsenal made a significant contribution to Lacazette's drought Credit: Reuters He has recently found David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois in inspired form at the Emirates, and was unfortunate not to find himself on the scoresheet against both. He has been less effective in front of goal all season than both Lukaku and Morata, scoring nearly two goals fewer than his 'expected goal' tally, while the other two have scored roughly what the data says they should have. [For more on 'Expected goals' see our explainer, here.] Expected goals That is, the average Premier League striker would score 9.79 goals from the chances that Lacazette has had this season; he has actually scored only eight. Morata has scored 10 from chances worth exactly the same number of 'expected goals'. This may suggest Lacazette is not the world class, clinical, complete No 9 Arsenal so craved and thought they were buying in the summer. Olivier Giroud's injury and Sanchez's wandering mind have given Lacazette too great a burden to carry himself, and he could do with some help from elsewhere in the team. But at the same time, 10 hours without a goal isn't good enough for a £50m-plus striker, and there remain significant improvements to be made to his game. Alvaro Morata It hasn't been all that long since Morata scored, but there has been a stark difference between the player Chelsea signed and the one who has led the line in recent weeks. There are no two ways about it: his catalogue of glaring misses in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal cost Chelsea the game and with it two potentially vital points. In the League Cup this week, he looked off the pace and barely troubled an Arsenal back three that contained Rob Holding, who had been run ragged by Nottingham Forest's forward line only a few days earlier. He isn't striking the ball anything like as confidently as earlier in the season, and it seems to be preying on his mind. Morata wasted three good chances at the Emirates Credit: Reuters Plenty of Chelsea's opponents have sought to cut off the supply line from Cesar Azpilicueta, who has assists for six Morata goals, making them, surprisingly, the best such combination in any of Europe's five major leagues. Antonio Conte has managed Morata well, restricting his game time despite not feeling able to rely on back-up Michy Batshuayi, instead choosing to play Eden Hazard as a 'false nine' on occasion. Morata has played fewer minues than either Lukaku or Lacazette, and so should go into the second half of the season most fresh of the three. That said, he looks tired and troubled at the moment, perhaps struggling with his first season without a winter break, in rather colder climes than he would have lived with before. There is also the fact that this is the first season of his career in which he has been the first choice forward, and the both he and Conte, could do with another trusted option up top.

What's wrong with Alexandre Lacazette, Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku - the Premier League's misfiring marquee strikers?

In the summer of 2016, with the arrivals of Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho to revive three flailing Premier League behemoths, the age of the supercoach dawned. 12 months later, it was time to base pre-season predictions on the marquee centre-forwards at each of the title contenders. Would Harry Kane be able to maintain his position as the league's best striker with nearly £200 million spent on new No 9s at Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, while City still had Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus to rely on and Liverpool Roberto Firmino? The form of the centre-forwards, it was thought, would define the season. History tells us there is no guaranteeing a big-money signing up front will hit the ground running, even if they have succeeded elsewhere; see Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll. There is even greater chance of failure when new to the Premier League. But credit where credit's due: Alvaro Morata, Alexandre Lacazette and Romelu Lukaku all made impressive starts to life at their new clubs. All three scored on their debuts, netted again within their first few weeks and by the end of September each had scored a brace or a hat-trick in a Premier League game. At that stage of the season, Lacazette had four goals in six games; Morata six in seven; Lukaku seven in seven. Since, however, while Kane and Mo Salah have continued to score at almost a goal a game, it has been a rather different story for these three. What's wrong with Premier League's marquee strikers? After scoring a combined 17 goals in 20 games before September was out, they have just 11 in 42 appearances from October 1 onwards, and have found the New Year even tougher. Lukaku is currently on a run of 257 minutes, or four hours 17 mins, without a Premier League goal and has scored just three in his last 14 appearances. Morata is 205 minutes, or 3 hrs 25 mins, without a goal, and has scored twice in his last eight games. Lacazette has played a whopping 529 minutes - eight hours and 49 minutes - since his last league goal. The Frenchman took his drought in all competitions to nearly 10 hours with a fruitless display in the League Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea this week. All three remain top class forwards, but what has been simultaneously going wrong for them over recent months - and can we expect the slumps to continue or an imminent up-turn in form? Romelu Lukaku A goal against a worn-down Derby in the 90th minute of their FA Cup meeting last week gave Lukaku a welcome break from analysis of his form, but he is still some way off a return to the rate of scoring at which he began his United career. Forget his widely-discussed travails against the big clubs: Lukaku was recruited to try and provide the difference in games against lesser teams that United of last season were drawing games against. Lukaku has been struggling for form  Credit: AFP The Belgian has done his job that regard frequently, even in more recent weeks when his goal-scoring has slowed, scoring the odd goal in wins against Bournemouth and West Brom, as well as CSKA Moscow in the Champions League. However, persevered with up front given Mourinho's mistrust of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial as central strikers and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's fitness concerns, Lukaku has become an all too peripheral figure on the pitch, drifting out of games and struggling to link play with midfield quite like he did earlier in the season. His confidence is down and he looks tired. The consequence has been worryingly few sights of goal. Since his last Premier League goal - at the Hawthorns on 17 December - Lukaku has had a miserly four attempts on goal. That's one every 64 minutes he has played and not a single one of them has hit the target. Prior to that goal, he was having a shot every 27 minutes.  Romelu Lukaku | Premier League 2017/18 In truth, Mourinho has more than enough options to give Lukaku a break, and being dropped could be the catalyst to rediscovering his form. Clearly Lukaku needs reinvigorating rather than just persistent selection. We've seen Mourinho coax the best from Lukaku already; the Belgian could do with his manager's help again now. Alexandre Lacazette The first time Lacazette played with both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, it looked like a match made in heaven. Now, however, their time together looks like it will be cut short with Sanchez angling for a move away from the Emirates, and the Chilean's inconsistent form has seen his team-mates suffer; and none more so than Lacazette. His link-play has remained sound and he has continuously looked threatening. He has picked up a couple of crucial assists in recent weeks - in the 3-2 win at Crystal Palace and in the 3-3 draw with Liverpool - and is having shots as often as he was earlier in the season, but just isn't finding the corner of the net as well as he had been. David De Gea's performance at Arsenal made a significant contribution to Lacazette's drought Credit: Reuters He has recently found David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois in inspired form at the Emirates, and was unfortunate not to find himself on the scoresheet against both. He has been less effective in front of goal all season than both Lukaku and Morata, scoring nearly two goals fewer than his 'expected goal' tally, while the other two have scored roughly what the data says they should have. [For more on 'Expected goals' see our explainer, here.] Expected goals That is, the average Premier League striker would score 9.79 goals from the chances that Lacazette has had this season; he has actually scored only eight. Morata has scored 10 from chances worth exactly the same number of 'expected goals'. This may suggest Lacazette is not the world class, clinical, complete No 9 Arsenal so craved and thought they were buying in the summer. Olivier Giroud's injury and Sanchez's wandering mind have given Lacazette too great a burden to carry himself, and he could do with some help from elsewhere in the team. But at the same time, 10 hours without a goal isn't good enough for a £50m-plus striker, and there remain significant improvements to be made to his game. Alvaro Morata It hasn't been all that long since Morata scored, but there has been a stark difference between the player Chelsea signed and the one who has led the line in recent weeks. There are no two ways about it: his catalogue of glaring misses in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal cost Chelsea the game and with it two potentially vital points. In the League Cup this week, he looked off the pace and barely troubled an Arsenal back three that contained Rob Holding, who had been run ragged by Nottingham Forest's forward line only a few days earlier. He isn't striking the ball anything like as confidently as earlier in the season, and it seems to be preying on his mind. Morata wasted three good chances at the Emirates Credit: Reuters Plenty of Chelsea's opponents have sought to cut off the supply line from Cesar Azpilicueta, who has assists for six Morata goals, making them, surprisingly, the best such combination in any of Europe's five major leagues. Antonio Conte has managed Morata well, restricting his game time despite not feeling able to rely on back-up Michy Batshuayi, instead choosing to play Eden Hazard as a 'false nine' on occasion. Morata has played fewer minues than either Lukaku or Lacazette, and so should go into the second half of the season most fresh of the three. That said, he looks tired and troubled at the moment, perhaps struggling with his first season without a winter break, in rather colder climes than he would have lived with before. There is also the fact that this is the first season of his career in which he has been the first choice forward, and the both he and Conte, could do with another trusted option up top.

What's wrong with Alexandre Lacazette, Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku - the Premier League's misfiring marquee strikers?

In the summer of 2016, with the arrivals of Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho to revive three flailing Premier League behemoths, the age of the supercoach dawned. 12 months later, it was time to base pre-season predictions on the marquee centre-forwards at each of the title contenders. Would Harry Kane be able to maintain his position as the league's best striker with nearly £200 million spent on new No 9s at Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, while City still had Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus to rely on and Liverpool Roberto Firmino? The form of the centre-forwards, it was thought, would define the season. History tells us there is no guaranteeing a big-money signing up front will hit the ground running, even if they have succeeded elsewhere; see Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll. There is even greater chance of failure when new to the Premier League. But credit where credit's due: Alvaro Morata, Alexandre Lacazette and Romelu Lukaku all made impressive starts to life at their new clubs. All three scored on their debuts, netted again within their first few weeks and by the end of September each had scored a brace or a hat-trick in a Premier League game. At that stage of the season, Lacazette had four goals in six games; Morata six in seven; Lukaku seven in seven. Since, however, while Kane and Mo Salah have continued to score at almost a goal a game, it has been a rather different story for these three. What's wrong with Premier League's marquee strikers? After scoring a combined 17 goals in 20 games before September was out, they have just 11 in 42 appearances from October 1 onwards, and have found the New Year even tougher. Lukaku is currently on a run of 257 minutes, or four hours 17 mins, without a Premier League goal and has scored just three in his last 14 appearances. Morata is 205 minutes, or 3 hrs 25 mins, without a goal, and has scored twice in his last eight games. Lacazette has played a whopping 529 minutes - eight hours and 49 minutes - since his last league goal. The Frenchman took his drought in all competitions to nearly 10 hours with a fruitless display in the League Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea this week. All three remain top class forwards, but what has been simultaneously going wrong for them over recent months - and can we expect the slumps to continue or an imminent up-turn in form? Romelu Lukaku A goal against a worn-down Derby in the 90th minute of their FA Cup meeting last week gave Lukaku a welcome break from analysis of his form, but he is still some way off a return to the rate of scoring at which he began his United career. Forget his widely-discussed travails against the big clubs: Lukaku was recruited to try and provide the difference in games against lesser teams that United of last season were drawing games against. Lukaku has been struggling for form  Credit: AFP The Belgian has done his job that regard frequently, even in more recent weeks when his goal-scoring has slowed, scoring the odd goal in wins against Bournemouth and West Brom, as well as CSKA Moscow in the Champions League. However, persevered with up front given Mourinho's mistrust of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial as central strikers and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's fitness concerns, Lukaku has become an all too peripheral figure on the pitch, drifting out of games and struggling to link play with midfield quite like he did earlier in the season. His confidence is down and he looks tired. The consequence has been worryingly few sights of goal. Since his last Premier League goal - at the Hawthorns on 17 December - Lukaku has had a miserly four attempts on goal. That's one every 64 minutes he has played and not a single one of them has hit the target. Prior to that goal, he was having a shot every 27 minutes.  Romelu Lukaku | Premier League 2017/18 In truth, Mourinho has more than enough options to give Lukaku a break, and being dropped could be the catalyst to rediscovering his form. Clearly Lukaku needs reinvigorating rather than just persistent selection. We've seen Mourinho coax the best from Lukaku already; the Belgian could do with his manager's help again now. Alexandre Lacazette The first time Lacazette played with both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, it looked like a match made in heaven. Now, however, their time together looks like it will be cut short with Sanchez angling for a move away from the Emirates, and the Chilean's inconsistent form has seen his team-mates suffer; and none more so than Lacazette. His link-play has remained sound and he has continuously looked threatening. He has picked up a couple of crucial assists in recent weeks - in the 3-2 win at Crystal Palace and in the 3-3 draw with Liverpool - and is having shots as often as he was earlier in the season, but just isn't finding the corner of the net as well as he had been. David De Gea's performance at Arsenal made a significant contribution to Lacazette's drought Credit: Reuters He has recently found David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois in inspired form at the Emirates, and was unfortunate not to find himself on the scoresheet against both. He has been less effective in front of goal all season than both Lukaku and Morata, scoring nearly two goals fewer than his 'expected goal' tally, while the other two have scored roughly what the data says they should have. [For more on 'Expected goals' see our explainer, here.] Expected goals That is, the average Premier League striker would score 9.79 goals from the chances that Lacazette has had this season; he has actually scored only eight. Morata has scored 10 from chances worth exactly the same number of 'expected goals'. This may suggest Lacazette is not the world class, clinical, complete No 9 Arsenal so craved and thought they were buying in the summer. Olivier Giroud's injury and Sanchez's wandering mind have given Lacazette too great a burden to carry himself, and he could do with some help from elsewhere in the team. But at the same time, 10 hours without a goal isn't good enough for a £50m-plus striker, and there remain significant improvements to be made to his game. Alvaro Morata It hasn't been all that long since Morata scored, but there has been a stark difference between the player Chelsea signed and the one who has led the line in recent weeks. There are no two ways about it: his catalogue of glaring misses in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal cost Chelsea the game and with it two potentially vital points. In the League Cup this week, he looked off the pace and barely troubled an Arsenal back three that contained Rob Holding, who had been run ragged by Nottingham Forest's forward line only a few days earlier. He isn't striking the ball anything like as confidently as earlier in the season, and it seems to be preying on his mind. Morata wasted three good chances at the Emirates Credit: Reuters Plenty of Chelsea's opponents have sought to cut off the supply line from Cesar Azpilicueta, who has assists for six Morata goals, making them, surprisingly, the best such combination in any of Europe's five major leagues. Antonio Conte has managed Morata well, restricting his game time despite not feeling able to rely on back-up Michy Batshuayi, instead choosing to play Eden Hazard as a 'false nine' on occasion. Morata has played fewer minues than either Lukaku or Lacazette, and so should go into the second half of the season most fresh of the three. That said, he looks tired and troubled at the moment, perhaps struggling with his first season without a winter break, in rather colder climes than he would have lived with before. There is also the fact that this is the first season of his career in which he has been the first choice forward, and the both he and Conte, could do with another trusted option up top.

Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka targets Chelsea forward Charly Musonda

Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka targets Chelsea forward Charly Musonda

Aitor Karanka, the new Nottingham Forest manager, has launched an ambitious bid for Chelsea forward Charly Musonda. Karanka wants to sign Musonda on loan for the remainder of the season after the 21-year-old attacking midfielder was cleared by Chelsea for a temporary move. Musonda scored against Forest in the Carabao Cup in September and Karanka will rival a number of Premier League clubs, including Bournemouth, Newcastle and Watford, for the Belgium Under-21 international. Karanka, who is also keen to sign a new goalkeeper and a centre-half, has admitted he is under pressure to take Forest back to the big time. Forest dumped FA Cup holders Arsenal out of the competition last Sunday but they have endured a long and painful exile from the top flight since their relegation in 1999. January 2018 transfer window Evangelos Marinakis, the club’s owner, wants to return soon and former Middlesbrough manager Karanka is ready to embrace the challenge after signing a two-and-a-half year deal. “The pressure is on me because I am here to get promotion.” he said. “The bigger the club is, the pressure is. The chairman and the owners are ambitious and a club like this belongs in the Premier League.” Karanka begins his City Ground reign on Saturday with a home game against Aston Villa.

Everton to make £20m January bid for Theo Walcott after forward's latest Arsenal snub

Everton are poised to make a £20 million bid for Theo Walcott, following the forward’s latest Arsenal snub. Walcott was left on the bench for Arsenal’s Carabao Cup goalless draw with Chelsea, even though Alex Iwobi broke club rules by partying ahead of the FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest. Despite promising Iwobi would be punished, Wenger started the 21 year-old ahead of Walcott for the trip to Chelsea and also preferred Danny Welbeck to him after deciding to relegate Alexis Sanchez to the substitutes’ bench. Sanchez, who Arsenal are growing resigned to losing this month, stepped off the bench, but Walcott was once again a spectator. That has increased the chances of Walcott ending his 12-year stay at Arsenal this month and Everton are currently in pole position, ahead of Southampton, to land the England international. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger would prefer Walcott to stay at the Emirates, but could be prepared to let him go if Welbeck remains fit and Olivier Giroud does not suffer an injury setback. January 2018 transfer window Everton hope that an offer in the region of £20m will be enough to tempt Wenger into selling, while they are also ready to match Walcott’s £110,000-a-week Arsenal wages. Having signed striker Cenk Tosun, Everton manager Sam Allardyce wants to add pace to his attack and believes Walcott could reignite his career at Goodison Park. Allardyce also thinks he can give Walcott the chance to make a late run to try to force his way into England’s World Cup squad, however unlikely that may currently seem. Walcott is yet to start a Premier League game this season and has seen himself left out of Wenger’s match-day squad entirely when the Frenchman has had all of his attackers to pick from. Theo Walcott (left) in training Credit: GETTY IMAGES During his 12 years with the club, 28-year-old Walcott has scored 108 goals for Arsenal and has made 47 appearances for England, scoring eight times. Southampton are also prepared to offer Walcott the chance to go back to the club where he started his career, but the Saints would have to convince him to join a relegation fight. Wenger defended his decision to play Iwobi so soon after he broke club rules, but the move sparked criticism from former Arsenal striker Ian Wright. Speaking to Sky Sports, Wright said: “In the current climate, for a young player to go out and do that with Arsenal going through what they’re going through now - experienced players wanting to leave, there’s no leadership - Arsene Wenger should have made a better stance on this. A stronger stance. Alex Iwobi is ahead of Theo Walcott in the Arsenal pecking order Credit: AFP “Because Arsenal have got to find what we are losing at the moment. People laugh at us - they see it as a bit of a joke with what’s going on at the moment - players don’t want to be there. It just feels like we are losing control. “What’s it saying to Theo? He’s got a youngster that’s gone out less than 48 hours before the game, still plays in that game, plays in this game and you can’t get a game in front of him. You’ve got to start thinking about your own future.”

Everton to make £20m January bid for Theo Walcott after forward's latest Arsenal snub

Everton are poised to make a £20 million bid for Theo Walcott, following the forward’s latest Arsenal snub. Walcott was left on the bench for Arsenal’s Carabao Cup goalless draw with Chelsea, even though Alex Iwobi broke club rules by partying ahead of the FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest. Despite promising Iwobi would be punished, Wenger started the 21 year-old ahead of Walcott for the trip to Chelsea and also preferred Danny Welbeck to him after deciding to relegate Alexis Sanchez to the substitutes’ bench. Sanchez, who Arsenal are growing resigned to losing this month, stepped off the bench, but Walcott was once again a spectator. That has increased the chances of Walcott ending his 12-year stay at Arsenal this month and Everton are currently in pole position, ahead of Southampton, to land the England international. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger would prefer Walcott to stay at the Emirates, but could be prepared to let him go if Welbeck remains fit and Olivier Giroud does not suffer an injury setback. January 2018 transfer window Everton hope that an offer in the region of £20m will be enough to tempt Wenger into selling, while they are also ready to match Walcott’s £110,000-a-week Arsenal wages. Having signed striker Cenk Tosun, Everton manager Sam Allardyce wants to add pace to his attack and believes Walcott could reignite his career at Goodison Park. Allardyce also thinks he can give Walcott the chance to make a late run to try to force his way into England’s World Cup squad, however unlikely that may currently seem. Walcott is yet to start a Premier League game this season and has seen himself left out of Wenger’s match-day squad entirely when the Frenchman has had all of his attackers to pick from. Theo Walcott (left) in training Credit: GETTY IMAGES During his 12 years with the club, 28-year-old Walcott has scored 108 goals for Arsenal and has made 47 appearances for England, scoring eight times. Southampton are also prepared to offer Walcott the chance to go back to the club where he started his career, but the Saints would have to convince him to join a relegation fight. Wenger defended his decision to play Iwobi so soon after he broke club rules, but the move sparked criticism from former Arsenal striker Ian Wright. Speaking to Sky Sports, Wright said: “In the current climate, for a young player to go out and do that with Arsenal going through what they’re going through now - experienced players wanting to leave, there’s no leadership - Arsene Wenger should have made a better stance on this. A stronger stance. Alex Iwobi is ahead of Theo Walcott in the Arsenal pecking order Credit: AFP “Because Arsenal have got to find what we are losing at the moment. People laugh at us - they see it as a bit of a joke with what’s going on at the moment - players don’t want to be there. It just feels like we are losing control. “What’s it saying to Theo? He’s got a youngster that’s gone out less than 48 hours before the game, still plays in that game, plays in this game and you can’t get a game in front of him. You’ve got to start thinking about your own future.”

Everton to make £20m January bid for Theo Walcott after forward's latest Arsenal snub

Everton are poised to make a £20 million bid for Theo Walcott, following the forward’s latest Arsenal snub. Walcott was left on the bench for Arsenal’s Carabao Cup goalless draw with Chelsea, even though Alex Iwobi broke club rules by partying ahead of the FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest. Despite promising Iwobi would be punished, Wenger started the 21 year-old ahead of Walcott for the trip to Chelsea and also preferred Danny Welbeck to him after deciding to relegate Alexis Sanchez to the substitutes’ bench. Sanchez, who Arsenal are growing resigned to losing this month, stepped off the bench, but Walcott was once again a spectator. That has increased the chances of Walcott ending his 12-year stay at Arsenal this month and Everton are currently in pole position, ahead of Southampton, to land the England international. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger would prefer Walcott to stay at the Emirates, but could be prepared to let him go if Welbeck remains fit and Olivier Giroud does not suffer an injury setback. January 2018 transfer window Everton hope that an offer in the region of £20m will be enough to tempt Wenger into selling, while they are also ready to match Walcott’s £110,000-a-week Arsenal wages. Having signed striker Cenk Tosun, Everton manager Sam Allardyce wants to add pace to his attack and believes Walcott could reignite his career at Goodison Park. Allardyce also thinks he can give Walcott the chance to make a late run to try to force his way into England’s World Cup squad, however unlikely that may currently seem. Walcott is yet to start a Premier League game this season and has seen himself left out of Wenger’s match-day squad entirely when the Frenchman has had all of his attackers to pick from. Theo Walcott (left) in training Credit: GETTY IMAGES During his 12 years with the club, 28-year-old Walcott has scored 108 goals for Arsenal and has made 47 appearances for England, scoring eight times. Southampton are also prepared to offer Walcott the chance to go back to the club where he started his career, but the Saints would have to convince him to join a relegation fight. Wenger defended his decision to play Iwobi so soon after he broke club rules, but the move sparked criticism from former Arsenal striker Ian Wright. Speaking to Sky Sports, Wright said: “In the current climate, for a young player to go out and do that with Arsenal going through what they’re going through now - experienced players wanting to leave, there’s no leadership - Arsene Wenger should have made a better stance on this. A stronger stance. Alex Iwobi is ahead of Theo Walcott in the Arsenal pecking order Credit: AFP “Because Arsenal have got to find what we are losing at the moment. People laugh at us - they see it as a bit of a joke with what’s going on at the moment - players don’t want to be there. It just feels like we are losing control. “What’s it saying to Theo? He’s got a youngster that’s gone out less than 48 hours before the game, still plays in that game, plays in this game and you can’t get a game in front of him. You’ve got to start thinking about your own future.”

Dropping Iwobi would've punished the whole Arsenal team - Wenger

Arsene Wenger says he won't punish Alex Iwobi by dropping him from the Arsenal team, after the winger was spotted partying ahead of Sunday's FA Cup defeat by Nottingham Forest.

Dropping Iwobi would've punished the whole Arsenal team - Wenger

Arsene Wenger says he won't punish Alex Iwobi by dropping him from the Arsenal team, after the winger was spotted partying ahead of Sunday's FA Cup defeat by Nottingham Forest.

Dropping Iwobi would've punished the whole Arsenal team - Wenger

Arsene Wenger says he won't punish Alex Iwobi by dropping him from the Arsenal team, after the winger was spotted partying ahead of Sunday's FA Cup defeat by Nottingham Forest.

Arsene Wenger denies Alexis Sanchez was on Arsenal bench at Chelsea because of Man City interest 

Arsene Wenger insisted his decision to start Alexis Sanchez on the substitutes’ bench for Arsenal’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg draw against Chelsea had nothing to do with Manchester City’s attempts to sign him. Arsenal are growing increasingly resigned to selling City target Sanchez this month, but Wenger has no concerns over the forward’s commitment. Wenger reiterated his desire for Sanchez to stay at Arsenal, but claimed the Chilean proved he will remain professional in the meantime by the way he behaved at Stamford Bridge. Sanchez made a 66th-minute appearance as a substitute to replace Alexandre Lacazette and asked whether or not his decision to start with his star man on the bench was related to City, Wenger replied: “No. The team selection had nothing to do with the transfer market. “I have not to justify every decision I make, you know. I made over 1000 games and over 1000 teams and I got it every time wrong, but I have to make a decision.” Chelsea vs Arsenal player ratings Wenger was once again asked if he hopes Sanchez will stay at Arsenal and he said: “Yes, that’s what I want. I want him to stay for longer because he’s a very important player for us. “When he came on tonight, you could see that he created straight away danger. We have to accept as well when you play so many games and Sanchez plays every game that sometimes a breather in the middle of the season helps a little bit. “People don’t know well Alexis Sanchez, this is a guy who is completely focussed to play football. You see how he warmed up and how he came on? Like a player who wants to play football and he can make a difference between what’s going on outside and what’s happening on the football pitch. We live with facts, not with psychological theories and the fact is when you turn out on the pitch you play football and you give 100 per cent. That’s what he does.” Wenger also defended his decision to start Alex Iwobi, even though the winger had broken club rules by partying ahead of the FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest. Arsene Wenger watched the match from the press box Credit: Getty Images “There is one thing to punish somebody individually and another thing to punish everybody,” said Wenger. “If I think he can help the team to win, then that is nothing to do with the fact he can be punished, separately, individually.” Jack Wilshere was forced off with an ankle injury and Wenger added: “He has an ankle sprain, the first look at it was not too bad. But of course for Sunday I think he will be short. How long he will be out, I don’t know. It’s a shame to lose him when he’s in such a good form. It’s his good ankle, so I’m quite positive.” Chelsea, and in particular Andreas Christensen, missed good chances to take a second-leg lead to the Emirates. “We created chances to score, but we didn't take them,” said head coach Antonio Conte. “I think in the last period we must be more clinical, more good offensively. Otherwise, if you don't score, if you're lucky the game finishes in a draw. After Norwich it's the second 0-0 in a row. We have to reflect on this and try to improve during training sessions and try to improve in this situation.”

Arsene Wenger denies Alexis Sanchez was on Arsenal bench at Chelsea because of Man City interest 

Arsene Wenger insisted his decision to start Alexis Sanchez on the substitutes’ bench for Arsenal’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg draw against Chelsea had nothing to do with Manchester City’s attempts to sign him. Arsenal are growing increasingly resigned to selling City target Sanchez this month, but Wenger has no concerns over the forward’s commitment. Wenger reiterated his desire for Sanchez to stay at Arsenal, but claimed the Chilean proved he will remain professional in the meantime by the way he behaved at Stamford Bridge. Sanchez made a 66th-minute appearance as a substitute to replace Alexandre Lacazette and asked whether or not his decision to start with his star man on the bench was related to City, Wenger replied: “No. The team selection had nothing to do with the transfer market. “I have not to justify every decision I make, you know. I made over 1000 games and over 1000 teams and I got it every time wrong, but I have to make a decision.” Chelsea vs Arsenal player ratings Wenger was once again asked if he hopes Sanchez will stay at Arsenal and he said: “Yes, that’s what I want. I want him to stay for longer because he’s a very important player for us. “When he came on tonight, you could see that he created straight away danger. We have to accept as well when you play so many games and Sanchez plays every game that sometimes a breather in the middle of the season helps a little bit. “People don’t know well Alexis Sanchez, this is a guy who is completely focussed to play football. You see how he warmed up and how he came on? Like a player who wants to play football and he can make a difference between what’s going on outside and what’s happening on the football pitch. We live with facts, not with psychological theories and the fact is when you turn out on the pitch you play football and you give 100 per cent. That’s what he does.” Wenger also defended his decision to start Alex Iwobi, even though the winger had broken club rules by partying ahead of the FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest. Arsene Wenger watched the match from the press box Credit: Getty Images “There is one thing to punish somebody individually and another thing to punish everybody,” said Wenger. “If I think he can help the team to win, then that is nothing to do with the fact he can be punished, separately, individually.” Jack Wilshere was forced off with an ankle injury and Wenger added: “He has an ankle sprain, the first look at it was not too bad. But of course for Sunday I think he will be short. How long he will be out, I don’t know. It’s a shame to lose him when he’s in such a good form. It’s his good ankle, so I’m quite positive.” Chelsea, and in particular Andreas Christensen, missed good chances to take a second-leg lead to the Emirates. “We created chances to score, but we didn't take them,” said head coach Antonio Conte. “I think in the last period we must be more clinical, more good offensively. Otherwise, if you don't score, if you're lucky the game finishes in a draw. After Norwich it's the second 0-0 in a row. We have to reflect on this and try to improve during training sessions and try to improve in this situation.”

Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0, League Cup semi-final first leg: VAR in the spotlight in London derby stalemate

The ‘VAR’ was used but this was more a ‘Very Average Response’ as Chelsea and Arsenal played out a goalless stalemate in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final. The Video Assistant Referee was called upon, to help adjudicate on two penalties claims, one for each side, and it was correct that neither was given even if the sight of the official Martin Atkinson pressing his finger to his ear added to the fans’ confused frustration. Instead it was an encounter which also left Arsenal supporters wondering if Alexis Sanchez will be at the club for the second leg, in a fortnight’s time, after he started on the substitutes’ bench and with a January move to Manchester City appearing increasingly likely. Arsene Wenger later denied that was the case while confirming that Jack Wilshere, his captain for the night, had suffered yet another injury to add to Arsenal’s worrying roll call of absentees. However the midfielder’s apparent ankle strain, received in blocking a shot, should not keep him out too long. It is hoped. Wenger watched the match from the press box – serving the second game of his three-fixture ban – and was, frankly, more entertaining that what happened out on the pitch, at times. It was a close-by study for reporters on the agonies that a manager goes through as he slammed his desk, kicked the seat in front of him and failed to stifle the odd shout over decisions or his players not being in position even if he was 25 yards away. Was this Alexis Sanchez's final game as an Arsenal player? Credit: CAMERASPORT By the end Arsenal commendably kept Chelsea at bay and there was also a sense that there is too much of a familiarity about these two teams now. This was their fourth meeting of the season, their fourth draw, but this was a far cry from the thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates last week. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte marched onto the pitch to speak to Atkinson at the final whistle – having drawn an imaginary ‘TV’ with his hands, presumably calling for another video referral – but later said he had only questioned an offside call. There were chances. But, crucially, both Chelsea and Arsenal are carrying strikers at present who are suffering from a lack of confidence which was evidenced in the opening two minutes when Alvaro Morata was put through by Eden Hazard only to snatch at the chance and prod the ball into the side-netting. Wenger joined journalists in the press box Credit: REUTERS Then, with Arsenal’s first, and best, opening, superbly fashioned by Wilshere, who was their most positive, influential player, as he lifted the ball through, Alexandre Lacazette had the chance to run at goal but slashed wildly at his shot from just inside the penalty area and struck it high over the cross-bar. He had to do better. Arsenal will, of course, come away the happier and rightly so. It is all to play for but they are at home and after going out of the FA Cup so pitifully last Sunday, away to Nottingham Forest, this was a performance that showed the resolve and determination they so sorely lacked. It was a different XI, also, although Alex Iwobi – accused of partying late too close to the Forest game – surprisingly kept his place while Sanchez, expected to start, was benched before he came on in the second-half but to little effect. Chelsea will feel they created enough opportunities to have won, maybe even to have put this tie to bed, but it is three draws in a row for them in all competitions and further evidence as to why they are looking for another striker during this window with Morata needing a rest, and back-up, and little faith in Michy Batshuayi who also came on as a late substitute and headed over the one opening that came his way. Neither could Conte turn to new signing, Ross Barkley, who was not deemed fit enough. Average touch positions (0 min) Chelsea struck the post in the first-half, from a Victor Moses shot, although goalkeeper David Ospina will have felt he had it covered, and did so again late on when Cesc Fabregas’s cross was deflected onto the outside of the goal-frame. The first penalty claim came when Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beat out Iwobi’s powerful shot, after a mistake by Antonio Rudiger who unwisely tried to pass the ball out of his own area to Danny Drinkwater only for it to be intercepted. The rebound fell to Ainsley Maitland-Niles and he attempted to burst past Moses, going down. There were chants of “VAR” from the Arsenal fans but the penalty appeal was rejected after Atkinson clearly – with his hand to his ear – consulted with Neil Swarbrick, the official back at the television headquarters. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal In the second-half Chelsea laid siege. Marcos Alonso flicked on a cross to Andreas Christensen who headed over, at full stretch, from a couple of yards out. He should have scored. The ball bounced off Morata at close-range from another corner before the striker ran at goal and struck a powerful 25-yard shot that Ospina turned away. Then Morata hit the side-netting again as the goalkeeper rushed out. It continued. Mustafi cut out Moses’ goal-bound shot for a corner, Christensen headed wastefully wide once more, Hazard elected to pass when he had to shoot and then Chelsea questioned whether they should have had a penalty as Fabregas went over under Danny Welbeck’s challenge and again Atkinson delayed, pressing his hand to his ear, but again it was not given. It remains on the edge. 10:20PM Antonio Conte "I think when there are this type of situation you have adapt about this and you have to check but at the same time if you have to check in extra time I think you have to consider this, for me the only disappointment is about extra time because I think in the second half the doctor went on the pitch twice and the referee stop to listen to the VAR, you have to give more minutes extra time. In Italy sometimes extra time is seven, eight minutes. "It's important every game to try to win, we tried with all of our strength, created chances to score. The last few times we are not so clinical and despite you shoot for 20 times we don't score and I think we have a reflect on this stat. "[Hazard] was a technical substitution. "Every game is different. For example if you compare this game with last game with Arsenal, Arsenal played this a very different way. They stayed very deep to exploit the counter-attack. The last game was more open and the both teams tried to win the game. They played very well defensively and it was another game today." 10:07PM Arsene Wenger confirms Coquelin is gone We already knew but Wenger has just confirmed that Coquelin is off to Valencia. He's also not sure whether Wilshere has come out of this game unscathed but that Ramsey should be back soon. 10:02PM Arsenal post-match reaction Callum Chambers "Very pleased, I think it's a good result and we were strong at the back. The boys dug in. "You're aware, you can see them talking in their ear so it's one of those, gotta get used to it.  "It was a good defensively display from the whole team and I think that's the best thing to come from tonight. "We've been playing Chelsea a lot recently so we know how they play, they know how we play. I thought tonight we were up for it, up for the fight." Danny Welbeck "I didn't know the VAR was actually for that incident, I knew I got the ball so. I could see him talking in his ear but I knew I got the ball clearly so I wasn't worried. "I know whatever tactics we use when I get on the pitch I give my all. " 9:59PM How the shapes changed during the match Average touch positions (0 min)   9:51PM FULL TIME That's a fair result. The teams cancelled each other out, adjusted tactically during the game and were able to create chances, although none that should have turned into goals. The second leg will be ace. 9:50PM 90 mins +5 Arsenal have done well here. Chelsea have had all the chances: Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  But Arsenal have been a match for everything thrown at them. Chelsea go looking for one last chance. Can they get it? 9:47PM 90 mins +2 Sanchez is all on his own surrounded by five Chelsea players and can't hold on to the ball. Arsenal are looking to just see out the 0-0 here. 9:45PM 90 mins Oooooh but now Martin Atkinson is talking to the VAR. The replay isn't conclusive at all! It looks like Welbeck gets some of the ball but also takes out Fabregas in the area. Is it clear and obvious? We wait. No! It's a corner. Anti-climax but at least it's the right decision. The referees all think it's no penalty, everyone can be happy. 9:43PM 88 mins PENALTY! Is it? The referee says no instantly! There will be no VAR decision again. Fabregas went down at high speed there. Chelsea have a corner. 9:43PM 87 mins I think Sanchez has given the ball away almost every single time he's tried to pass forward since coming on. He's busy though, and is looking to make things happen. Xhaka tries to shoot from 30 yards. No goals occur. Elneny is booked for bringing down Morata in the Arsenal half. Batshuayi comes on to replace the Spaniard. 9:40PM 85 mins Sanchez wins a free-kick from a Willian tackle and wants to take it himself. Hazard is taken off for Bakayoko, which might mean a switch back to the 3-1-4-2 from earlier when Chelsea were dominating. The free-kick goes short to Elneny and is rubbish. Chelsea break until Morata runs the ball out of play for a throw. 9:39PM 83 mins Sanchez tries to press but nobody else has quite as much energy and Chelsea easily bypass it. Fabregas can't reach a forward pass and Arsenal win possession. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   9:36PM 80 mins Kante is booked for bringing down Welbeck and that's where the earlier yellow card he didn't get comes into play. Because that should probably his second! Controversial scenes. Sanchez stands over the free-kick, curls it in and puts it ahead of everyone in the box. Mustafi can't get there and it's a goal kick. 9:35PM 79 mins Sanchez carries the ball at pace and tries to release Welbeck.. but is blocked. Chelsea turn that into an attack and Alonso shoots from 25 yards but is saved. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Marcos Alonso, 77 min) Sanchez is bouncing around shouting at teammates who have the audacity not to pass to him. Welbeck takes the chance to shoot and gets that friendly treatment too. 9:31PM 76 mins Willian has a pop from 25 yards but Ospina saves on the dive, making it look relatively easy, if not slightly over dramatic.  Sanchez is trying to get involved in the game but hasn't quite been able to do so yet. 9:29PM 73 mins That's the Iwobi we're more used to. Arsenal break quickly, Iwobi goes through the middle and then snatches at his shot, watching it dribble towards goal. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alex Iwobi, 72 min) He could be such an amazing player with just a bit of work. 9:26PM 70 mins Calum Chambers is down in pain now. His studs get caught in the grass a little bit as he tries to turn and he goes down visibly uncomfortable. He's not clawing at the air desperately as though it's a real bad one and he's on his feet now anyway. 9:24PM 68 mins Drinkwater off, Willian on. That might mean a change of shape to a 3-4-3 rather than 3-1-4-2. Kante will shift into a central midfield slot beside Fabregas. 9:23PM 67 mins Chelsea are increasing the pressure on Arsenal's backline. Welbeck gives away a free-kick wide right and shockingly, beyond any realm of imagination, it is Lacazette who comes off for Sanchez. Shiver my timbers. The free-kick goes all the way left, Alonso puts it back in and Moses has space! He controls and then thrashes a shot at goal but a block by Mustafi turns it over. This corner is curled in, Ospina is lost in the middle of nowhere - dreadful goalkeeping - and Christensen meets the cross. It's an open goal... but wide. Close for Chelsea!   9:21PM 65 mins Alexis Sanchez is getting ready to come on. I wonder who will be substituted? Let's see... it's nearly the 70th minute and Lacazette hasn't scored which means... it's probably... definitely going to be.... 9:19PM 63 mins Arsenal finally get forward and Maitland-Niles looks up from the left wing and chips a lovely ball over the defenders towards Welbeck in the middle. Chelsea get it away. Average touch positions (61 min) You can see Chelsea's shape very clearly here but Arsenal's is a little confusing.  9:16PM 61 mins Arsenal could do with changing something here. Chelsea are all over them. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  Arsenal getting most players behind the ball now, absorbing the Chelsea attacks before making lame attempts at counter-attacks. Chelsea passing around confidently, going for direct balls towards the wings and Morata. 9:14PM 58 mins Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 56 min) Great save from Ospina! And Morata goes close again just after Wilshere is replaced by Elneny. Mustafi wants a foul for jumping too early and bouncing off the striker, Ospina comes out and Morata tries to squeeze a tight shot underneath the goalie. Goal kick. 9:13PM 56 mins A corner is whipped into the near post, Alonso gets something to it but can only force the shot wide. Wilshere is treated by Arsenal's physio a.k.a Gale from Breaking Bad but is back on the pitch. The shot from Drinkwater came off his dangling leg and could well have jarred the ligaments, the kind of thing that happens in five a side to at least one person every week. It looks like he might have to come off after all. Credit: REUTERS  Hopefully that's just a precaution. 9:10PM 55 mins Arsenal are trying to play out from the back but just cannot do it! The press is really intense and high and defenders are being forced into the six yard box to make a pass. Whenever that happens the high pass needed gives possession back to Chelsea. Chelsea have a corner after Drinkwater batters a ball from close range off Wilshere's ankle. Oh dear. He's down having treatment. 9:08PM 52 mins Booking for Xhaka. I had that sentence ready to paste.  He slides in and takes out Rudiger after another poor bit of play handed Chelsea possession deep in Arsenal's half. Alonso is lining up a 25 yard shot here. 9:07PM 51 mins Chelsea are more on the front foot in this half than they were the first. They're taking the game to Arsenal and look dangerous. They're also pressing higher up the pitch, getting Moses and Alonso further forward.  Kante and Drinkwater keep things ticking over in midfield while Chelsea attack down the flanks. 9:03PM 48 mins Kante is on the hunt for goals here. He's just had another go from inside the box with a difficult narrow angle volley but hits his own player. AND CHRISTENSEN AT THE BACK POST! Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Andreas Christensen, 47 min) So close! He might actually have done better there. Mustafi is beaten as the ball bounces off a head and falls to the Dane but he puts a bit too much on the header and it goes over. 9:01PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! 9:00PM Ross Barkley on the pitch He's waving at the fans, taking selfies, applauding - all of this while carrying a hamstring injury. What a guy. 8:58PM No VAR yet VAR has been utilised a few times so far then but nothing incredible has come of it. No penalties, yellow cards or reversed decisions. That said, at least Martin Atkinson has been sure of all the choices he has made in this game. He'll sleep well tonight.  8:47PM HALF TIME That was entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it. No goals though. I have particularly been interested in Arsenal's strange 3-6-1 formation. Average touch positions (half time) 8:46PM 45 mins Free-kick to Chelsea wide right. It's crossed in and Welbeck clears for a corner. Fabregas gets it short, Hazard crosses backwards to Azpilicueta... who goes for the ball over the top again! Fabregas is in behind the defence and one on one! He heads at goal... but straight at Ospina! Saved!  Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Cesc Fàbregas, 45 min)   8:43PM 43 mins Hazard is quick onto a smart flick from Morata but Ospina watches it and comes off his line to smother the through ball. Maitland-Niles has taken his turn to trick his way past Moses but runs out of room and nearly goes over the advertising boards. 8:39PM 40 mins Good save by Courtois! The shot is parried from Iwobi as the ball drops to him and then Moses looks to have tripped Maitland-Niles in the area! Moses scarpers away... Martin Atkinson gets advice from the VAR... will it be? WILL IT BE?  No. 8:37PM 38 mins Mustafi is way too eager to stop Morata kicking the ball and brings him down for a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Fabregas takes it short for Kante! Surprise! He gets it all wrong and slices with power over the bar. Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (N'Golo Kanté, 37 min)   8:33PM 35 mins Iwobi has been Arsenal's best player tonight. He's working really hard, making clever driving runs through the middle when the chance is on and is covering his defensive positions too. This is instead of the usual sideways passing, refusing to shoot Iwobi that we're used to. Chelsea win a corner after a Maitland-Niles error but Drinkwater hoofs a shot way over the bar. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:31PM 32 mins Credit: AFP Arsenal have another corner. This time Xhaka gets a better deliver and Mustafi puts his head on it. Wide.  8:30PM 31 mins VAR ALERT! Azpilicueta has been shoved to the ground by Chambers while they grapple for a corner. The referee has looked at the evidence, and then done exactly what he would have done if he hadn't seen it. Nothing. Xhaka is getting pelters from the Chelsea fans by his corner and hurriedly takes it, failing to clear the near post. The supporters love it.  8:28PM 28 mins Drinkwater is neat, turns back and plays Kante in, who drives forward and nobody can get close. The ball ends up with Alonso, who teases Bellerin before hitting a low diagonal into the box that Morata very nearly turns at goal. Ospina would have had to do something special to save if Morata had been able to get a touch. Maitland-Niles has been done by Moses again... Chelsea will start probing that weakness from here on. They've figured it out and Moses is enjoying himself. 8:25PM 26 mins Great effort by Moses who cuts inside from the left, goes past Maitland-Niles without even really trying and then thumps a low shot at the near post. Ospina gets down, spills... and recovers. No Chelsea player close enough to stab in the rebound.  Welbeck tries to break past the defence but is easily stopped. Chelsea bring the ball up to halfway and then hit a long pass over the top. 8:22PM 23 mins Credit: AFP  No flag! Lacazette is in! A well timed run and Wilshere finds him, Courtois narrows the angle... and Lacazette blasts it wildly over the bar.  Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   8:20PM 21 mins Xhaka shoots low from the free-kick, about 25 yards out, and doesn't score. Nothing happens actually. Chelsea have the ball. 8:19PM 20 mins A rare bad tackle by Kante should probably result in a yellow card for the Frenchman as Iwobi goes on an even rarer driving run through the middle of the defence. Somehow, and I have no idea why, the referee doesn't give a yellow. That's about as textbook a yellow card example as you'll see - from behind, lunging, denying an attacking opportunity, late, done on purpose... how is it not a yellow? It's a good job they have VAR to review... oh. Oh I see. They haven't bothered. Or - and this is possible - I don't know enough about refereeing to accurately call that as a booking, even after several replays. 8:17PM 18 mins Xhaka applauds his teammates as they put each other under pressure in order to keep possession in their own box before turning defence into attack. Lacazette tries to go round the outside of a defender but it doesn't quite work and Chelsea have a goal kick. 8:15PM 17 mins Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:15PM 16 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES That was the tunnel to pitch walk earlier. Very atmospheric. Like a boxing match, or actually something more similar to WWE. The long ball is on for Chelsea and they keep looking for it. Morata's first touch is absolutely brilliant which turns punted kicks into excellent passes.  8:13PM 13 mins Chelsea are patient with their passing, Arsenal drop off and Azpilicueta goes for one of his now-signature long diagonal passes towards Morata. Instead it's Alonso who attacks and a defender has to get the ball away to prevent the chance. Arsenal win a goal kick. Chelsea are looking for this ball over the top of Arsenal's back three for a runner in the space behind the wing-backs. Hazard nearly gets in at goal. 8:10PM 11 mins Xhaka takes a low corner and it comes all the way to Bellerin on the left (the corner was from the right). Alonso takes care of things, Kante cleans up... or does he? Arsenal regain possession high up the pitch but have to pass backwards. There's a nice tempo to the passing  and Arsenal have come out of their own half. 8:08PM 8 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea aren't quite on their game yet.  This graphic pretty perfectly summarises the opening minutes: Average touch positions (6 min)   8:06PM 6 mins Arsenal passing patiently around their own half but seem rather scared of going past halfway, since that is when Chelsea start trying to tackle them. Ospina is nearly put in trouble by a Mustafi back pass. Nearly. 8:04PM 4 mins Arsene Wenger is watching. Wenger and Jens Lehmann take their seats pic.twitter.com/1UVpRe6Uji— Matt McGeehan (@mattmcgeehan) January 10, 2018  I bet he's finding this in no way annoying. Wenger joins media to watch the game pic.twitter.com/FfyB8eGGUo— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 10, 2018   8:03PM 3 mins Arsenal are definitely a three man defence, Mustafi the central centre-back. Chelsea are looking to press at halfway, drawing Arsenal out from the back to create some space. Arsenal are employing a higher press but aren't doing it very well early on. Iwobi sort of tries, Lacazette drops deep, Welbeck tries a bit... Chelsea get forward and Morata hits the side netting. Already!  Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 2 min)   8:00PM KICK-OFF Here we go, here we go, here we go (repeat x infinity). 7:56PM David Luiz is there Credit: REUTERS Could we see the Brazilian playing tonight? Probably not. And if you read some... let's not call it news, because it isn't, but very tenuous links on pages that are usually proven entirely factually inaccurate have linked Luiz with a move away from west London this transfer window. Barcelona and Arsenal are the touted destinations. Not for me, Clive. 7:50PM Antonio Conte's thoughts "For sure it is a trophy and for this reason we want to reach the final but Arsenal will be the same." 7:44PM There he is Credit: REUTERS The other big talking point this evening, other than the game of football, is VAR. Quite why clubs are required to invest in extremely expensive equipment to review decisions instead of just watching a live feed already available in the grounds doesn't make an awful lot of sense to me. They have monitors in the press box - just give referees one of them! 7:34PM Francis Coquelin Au revoir Francis! The midfielder has signed for Valencia for a £12million transfer fee.  7:15PM Wenger looking forward to VAR "Well we look forward to this because we lost at the weekend. Being out of the FA Cup that we won many times and being in the semi final of the LC it becomes an important game. "[Ozil] has a reoccurrance of his knee problem, he saw a specialist today, we hope it is short term. He came in and couldn't practise." WHY IS SANCHEZ ON THE BENCH, EH? "You cannot explain every decision but that is the decision of the game. He is ready to play a part in this game." Are you excited about VAR helping penalty decisions? "Yes of course because I think sometimes at real pace its hard to detect what is a penalty."  7:06PM Barkley in a Chelsea strip Credit: GETTY IMAGES Well, it's not an actual kit, but the team clothing. Look away Everton fans.  7:02PM Starting lineups Chelsea Team to face Arsenal: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Alonso; Hazard, Morata. #CHEARSpic.twitter.com/jbcvsjsgXG— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 10, 2018 Arsenal NO SANCHEZ! He is on the bench, and has played quite a lot of games... but... �� TEAM NEWS ��#CFCvAFCpic.twitter.com/V7uEqX9Hlh— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 10, 2018   6:37PM Arsene Wenger's seat Credit: PA Credit: PA This is where Arsene Wenger will have to watch today's game, which is in the press box. That's the same bit that lucky journalists get to do 'work' (it is actually work) while taking in the match, which might mean we get some quotes from the man himself. That is unless he's taken some friends with him to hide between. Like Huell from Breaking Bad. 6:22PM Good evening Hello everyone, welcome to our liveblog for the second first leg of this season's League Cup semi-finals. Man City left it late yesterday against Bristol City but may have taken things a little too easy - neither team can afford to approach tonight's match in the same manner. Chelsea just announced a new contract has been agreed with Andreas Christensen and the Dane may well start this evening. Antonio Conte is unlikely to name a weakened first XI for this one even after a hectic festive schedule and more big names will surely play too. Ross Barkley won't make it because he's still recovering from a hamstring injury, Danny Drinkwater might start ahead of Tiemoue Bakayoko. N'Golo Kante has never-ending energy and could play every game if he wanted, probably. Credit: PA Arsenal's injury list, as ever, is long and worrying. Koscielny, Monreal, Giroud, Kolasinac and Ramsey are all out while Mustafi, Xhaka and Ozil are serious doubts. And so Wenger must turn to the youth team and an allegedly naughty Alex Iwobi to try and win this one. Lacazette might finally get 90 minutes, Danny Welbeck may actually get a game and David Ospina will be risked deployed in goal. And yes, Alexis Sanchez will probably play too. Could this be his last game for Arsenal? Will he actually start? We'll find out when the teams are announced at 19:00.

Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0, League Cup semi-final first leg: VAR in the spotlight in London derby stalemate

The ‘VAR’ was used but this was more a ‘Very Average Response’ as Chelsea and Arsenal played out a goalless stalemate in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final. The Video Assistant Referee was called upon, to help adjudicate on two penalties claims, one for each side, and it was correct that neither was given even if the sight of the official Martin Atkinson pressing his finger to his ear added to the fans’ confused frustration. Instead it was an encounter which also left Arsenal supporters wondering if Alexis Sanchez will be at the club for the second leg, in a fortnight’s time, after he started on the substitutes’ bench and with a January move to Manchester City appearing increasingly likely. Arsene Wenger later denied that was the case while confirming that Jack Wilshere, his captain for the night, had suffered yet another injury to add to Arsenal’s worrying roll call of absentees. However the midfielder’s apparent ankle strain, received in blocking a shot, should not keep him out too long. It is hoped. Wenger watched the match from the press box – serving the second game of his three-fixture ban – and was, frankly, more entertaining that what happened out on the pitch, at times. It was a close-by study for reporters on the agonies that a manager goes through as he slammed his desk, kicked the seat in front of him and failed to stifle the odd shout over decisions or his players not being in position even if he was 25 yards away. Was this Alexis Sanchez's final game as an Arsenal player? Credit: CAMERASPORT By the end Arsenal commendably kept Chelsea at bay and there was also a sense that there is too much of a familiarity about these two teams now. This was their fourth meeting of the season, their fourth draw, but this was a far cry from the thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates last week. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte marched onto the pitch to speak to Atkinson at the final whistle – having drawn an imaginary ‘TV’ with his hands, presumably calling for another video referral – but later said he had only questioned an offside call. There were chances. But, crucially, both Chelsea and Arsenal are carrying strikers at present who are suffering from a lack of confidence which was evidenced in the opening two minutes when Alvaro Morata was put through by Eden Hazard only to snatch at the chance and prod the ball into the side-netting. Wenger joined journalists in the press box Credit: REUTERS Then, with Arsenal’s first, and best, opening, superbly fashioned by Wilshere, who was their most positive, influential player, as he lifted the ball through, Alexandre Lacazette had the chance to run at goal but slashed wildly at his shot from just inside the penalty area and struck it high over the cross-bar. He had to do better. Arsenal will, of course, come away the happier and rightly so. It is all to play for but they are at home and after going out of the FA Cup so pitifully last Sunday, away to Nottingham Forest, this was a performance that showed the resolve and determination they so sorely lacked. It was a different XI, also, although Alex Iwobi – accused of partying late too close to the Forest game – surprisingly kept his place while Sanchez, expected to start, was benched before he came on in the second-half but to little effect. Chelsea will feel they created enough opportunities to have won, maybe even to have put this tie to bed, but it is three draws in a row for them in all competitions and further evidence as to why they are looking for another striker during this window with Morata needing a rest, and back-up, and little faith in Michy Batshuayi who also came on as a late substitute and headed over the one opening that came his way. Neither could Conte turn to new signing, Ross Barkley, who was not deemed fit enough. Average touch positions (0 min) Chelsea struck the post in the first-half, from a Victor Moses shot, although goalkeeper David Ospina will have felt he had it covered, and did so again late on when Cesc Fabregas’s cross was deflected onto the outside of the goal-frame. The first penalty claim came when Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beat out Iwobi’s powerful shot, after a mistake by Antonio Rudiger who unwisely tried to pass the ball out of his own area to Danny Drinkwater only for it to be intercepted. The rebound fell to Ainsley Maitland-Niles and he attempted to burst past Moses, going down. There were chants of “VAR” from the Arsenal fans but the penalty appeal was rejected after Atkinson clearly – with his hand to his ear – consulted with Neil Swarbrick, the official back at the television headquarters. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal In the second-half Chelsea laid siege. Marcos Alonso flicked on a cross to Andreas Christensen who headed over, at full stretch, from a couple of yards out. He should have scored. The ball bounced off Morata at close-range from another corner before the striker ran at goal and struck a powerful 25-yard shot that Ospina turned away. Then Morata hit the side-netting again as the goalkeeper rushed out. It continued. Mustafi cut out Moses’ goal-bound shot for a corner, Christensen headed wastefully wide once more, Hazard elected to pass when he had to shoot and then Chelsea questioned whether they should have had a penalty as Fabregas went over under Danny Welbeck’s challenge and again Atkinson delayed, pressing his hand to his ear, but again it was not given. It remains on the edge. 10:20PM Antonio Conte "I think when there are this type of situation you have adapt about this and you have to check but at the same time if you have to check in extra time I think you have to consider this, for me the only disappointment is about extra time because I think in the second half the doctor went on the pitch twice and the referee stop to listen to the VAR, you have to give more minutes extra time. In Italy sometimes extra time is seven, eight minutes. "It's important every game to try to win, we tried with all of our strength, created chances to score. The last few times we are not so clinical and despite you shoot for 20 times we don't score and I think we have a reflect on this stat. "[Hazard] was a technical substitution. "Every game is different. For example if you compare this game with last game with Arsenal, Arsenal played this a very different way. They stayed very deep to exploit the counter-attack. The last game was more open and the both teams tried to win the game. They played very well defensively and it was another game today." 10:07PM Arsene Wenger confirms Coquelin is gone We already knew but Wenger has just confirmed that Coquelin is off to Valencia. He's also not sure whether Wilshere has come out of this game unscathed but that Ramsey should be back soon. 10:02PM Arsenal post-match reaction Callum Chambers "Very pleased, I think it's a good result and we were strong at the back. The boys dug in. "You're aware, you can see them talking in their ear so it's one of those, gotta get used to it.  "It was a good defensively display from the whole team and I think that's the best thing to come from tonight. "We've been playing Chelsea a lot recently so we know how they play, they know how we play. I thought tonight we were up for it, up for the fight." Danny Welbeck "I didn't know the VAR was actually for that incident, I knew I got the ball so. I could see him talking in his ear but I knew I got the ball clearly so I wasn't worried. "I know whatever tactics we use when I get on the pitch I give my all. " 9:59PM How the shapes changed during the match Average touch positions (0 min)   9:51PM FULL TIME That's a fair result. The teams cancelled each other out, adjusted tactically during the game and were able to create chances, although none that should have turned into goals. The second leg will be ace. 9:50PM 90 mins +5 Arsenal have done well here. Chelsea have had all the chances: Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  But Arsenal have been a match for everything thrown at them. Chelsea go looking for one last chance. Can they get it? 9:47PM 90 mins +2 Sanchez is all on his own surrounded by five Chelsea players and can't hold on to the ball. Arsenal are looking to just see out the 0-0 here. 9:45PM 90 mins Oooooh but now Martin Atkinson is talking to the VAR. The replay isn't conclusive at all! It looks like Welbeck gets some of the ball but also takes out Fabregas in the area. Is it clear and obvious? We wait. No! It's a corner. Anti-climax but at least it's the right decision. The referees all think it's no penalty, everyone can be happy. 9:43PM 88 mins PENALTY! Is it? The referee says no instantly! There will be no VAR decision again. Fabregas went down at high speed there. Chelsea have a corner. 9:43PM 87 mins I think Sanchez has given the ball away almost every single time he's tried to pass forward since coming on. He's busy though, and is looking to make things happen. Xhaka tries to shoot from 30 yards. No goals occur. Elneny is booked for bringing down Morata in the Arsenal half. Batshuayi comes on to replace the Spaniard. 9:40PM 85 mins Sanchez wins a free-kick from a Willian tackle and wants to take it himself. Hazard is taken off for Bakayoko, which might mean a switch back to the 3-1-4-2 from earlier when Chelsea were dominating. The free-kick goes short to Elneny and is rubbish. Chelsea break until Morata runs the ball out of play for a throw. 9:39PM 83 mins Sanchez tries to press but nobody else has quite as much energy and Chelsea easily bypass it. Fabregas can't reach a forward pass and Arsenal win possession. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   9:36PM 80 mins Kante is booked for bringing down Welbeck and that's where the earlier yellow card he didn't get comes into play. Because that should probably his second! Controversial scenes. Sanchez stands over the free-kick, curls it in and puts it ahead of everyone in the box. Mustafi can't get there and it's a goal kick. 9:35PM 79 mins Sanchez carries the ball at pace and tries to release Welbeck.. but is blocked. Chelsea turn that into an attack and Alonso shoots from 25 yards but is saved. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Marcos Alonso, 77 min) Sanchez is bouncing around shouting at teammates who have the audacity not to pass to him. Welbeck takes the chance to shoot and gets that friendly treatment too. 9:31PM 76 mins Willian has a pop from 25 yards but Ospina saves on the dive, making it look relatively easy, if not slightly over dramatic.  Sanchez is trying to get involved in the game but hasn't quite been able to do so yet. 9:29PM 73 mins That's the Iwobi we're more used to. Arsenal break quickly, Iwobi goes through the middle and then snatches at his shot, watching it dribble towards goal. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alex Iwobi, 72 min) He could be such an amazing player with just a bit of work. 9:26PM 70 mins Calum Chambers is down in pain now. His studs get caught in the grass a little bit as he tries to turn and he goes down visibly uncomfortable. He's not clawing at the air desperately as though it's a real bad one and he's on his feet now anyway. 9:24PM 68 mins Drinkwater off, Willian on. That might mean a change of shape to a 3-4-3 rather than 3-1-4-2. Kante will shift into a central midfield slot beside Fabregas. 9:23PM 67 mins Chelsea are increasing the pressure on Arsenal's backline. Welbeck gives away a free-kick wide right and shockingly, beyond any realm of imagination, it is Lacazette who comes off for Sanchez. Shiver my timbers. The free-kick goes all the way left, Alonso puts it back in and Moses has space! He controls and then thrashes a shot at goal but a block by Mustafi turns it over. This corner is curled in, Ospina is lost in the middle of nowhere - dreadful goalkeeping - and Christensen meets the cross. It's an open goal... but wide. Close for Chelsea!   9:21PM 65 mins Alexis Sanchez is getting ready to come on. I wonder who will be substituted? Let's see... it's nearly the 70th minute and Lacazette hasn't scored which means... it's probably... definitely going to be.... 9:19PM 63 mins Arsenal finally get forward and Maitland-Niles looks up from the left wing and chips a lovely ball over the defenders towards Welbeck in the middle. Chelsea get it away. Average touch positions (61 min) You can see Chelsea's shape very clearly here but Arsenal's is a little confusing.  9:16PM 61 mins Arsenal could do with changing something here. Chelsea are all over them. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  Arsenal getting most players behind the ball now, absorbing the Chelsea attacks before making lame attempts at counter-attacks. Chelsea passing around confidently, going for direct balls towards the wings and Morata. 9:14PM 58 mins Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 56 min) Great save from Ospina! And Morata goes close again just after Wilshere is replaced by Elneny. Mustafi wants a foul for jumping too early and bouncing off the striker, Ospina comes out and Morata tries to squeeze a tight shot underneath the goalie. Goal kick. 9:13PM 56 mins A corner is whipped into the near post, Alonso gets something to it but can only force the shot wide. Wilshere is treated by Arsenal's physio a.k.a Gale from Breaking Bad but is back on the pitch. The shot from Drinkwater came off his dangling leg and could well have jarred the ligaments, the kind of thing that happens in five a side to at least one person every week. It looks like he might have to come off after all. Credit: REUTERS  Hopefully that's just a precaution. 9:10PM 55 mins Arsenal are trying to play out from the back but just cannot do it! The press is really intense and high and defenders are being forced into the six yard box to make a pass. Whenever that happens the high pass needed gives possession back to Chelsea. Chelsea have a corner after Drinkwater batters a ball from close range off Wilshere's ankle. Oh dear. He's down having treatment. 9:08PM 52 mins Booking for Xhaka. I had that sentence ready to paste.  He slides in and takes out Rudiger after another poor bit of play handed Chelsea possession deep in Arsenal's half. Alonso is lining up a 25 yard shot here. 9:07PM 51 mins Chelsea are more on the front foot in this half than they were the first. They're taking the game to Arsenal and look dangerous. They're also pressing higher up the pitch, getting Moses and Alonso further forward.  Kante and Drinkwater keep things ticking over in midfield while Chelsea attack down the flanks. 9:03PM 48 mins Kante is on the hunt for goals here. He's just had another go from inside the box with a difficult narrow angle volley but hits his own player. AND CHRISTENSEN AT THE BACK POST! Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Andreas Christensen, 47 min) So close! He might actually have done better there. Mustafi is beaten as the ball bounces off a head and falls to the Dane but he puts a bit too much on the header and it goes over. 9:01PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! 9:00PM Ross Barkley on the pitch He's waving at the fans, taking selfies, applauding - all of this while carrying a hamstring injury. What a guy. 8:58PM No VAR yet VAR has been utilised a few times so far then but nothing incredible has come of it. No penalties, yellow cards or reversed decisions. That said, at least Martin Atkinson has been sure of all the choices he has made in this game. He'll sleep well tonight.  8:47PM HALF TIME That was entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it. No goals though. I have particularly been interested in Arsenal's strange 3-6-1 formation. Average touch positions (half time) 8:46PM 45 mins Free-kick to Chelsea wide right. It's crossed in and Welbeck clears for a corner. Fabregas gets it short, Hazard crosses backwards to Azpilicueta... who goes for the ball over the top again! Fabregas is in behind the defence and one on one! He heads at goal... but straight at Ospina! Saved!  Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Cesc Fàbregas, 45 min)   8:43PM 43 mins Hazard is quick onto a smart flick from Morata but Ospina watches it and comes off his line to smother the through ball. Maitland-Niles has taken his turn to trick his way past Moses but runs out of room and nearly goes over the advertising boards. 8:39PM 40 mins Good save by Courtois! The shot is parried from Iwobi as the ball drops to him and then Moses looks to have tripped Maitland-Niles in the area! Moses scarpers away... Martin Atkinson gets advice from the VAR... will it be? WILL IT BE?  No. 8:37PM 38 mins Mustafi is way too eager to stop Morata kicking the ball and brings him down for a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Fabregas takes it short for Kante! Surprise! He gets it all wrong and slices with power over the bar. Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (N'Golo Kanté, 37 min)   8:33PM 35 mins Iwobi has been Arsenal's best player tonight. He's working really hard, making clever driving runs through the middle when the chance is on and is covering his defensive positions too. This is instead of the usual sideways passing, refusing to shoot Iwobi that we're used to. Chelsea win a corner after a Maitland-Niles error but Drinkwater hoofs a shot way over the bar. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:31PM 32 mins Credit: AFP Arsenal have another corner. This time Xhaka gets a better deliver and Mustafi puts his head on it. Wide.  8:30PM 31 mins VAR ALERT! Azpilicueta has been shoved to the ground by Chambers while they grapple for a corner. The referee has looked at the evidence, and then done exactly what he would have done if he hadn't seen it. Nothing. Xhaka is getting pelters from the Chelsea fans by his corner and hurriedly takes it, failing to clear the near post. The supporters love it.  8:28PM 28 mins Drinkwater is neat, turns back and plays Kante in, who drives forward and nobody can get close. The ball ends up with Alonso, who teases Bellerin before hitting a low diagonal into the box that Morata very nearly turns at goal. Ospina would have had to do something special to save if Morata had been able to get a touch. Maitland-Niles has been done by Moses again... Chelsea will start probing that weakness from here on. They've figured it out and Moses is enjoying himself. 8:25PM 26 mins Great effort by Moses who cuts inside from the left, goes past Maitland-Niles without even really trying and then thumps a low shot at the near post. Ospina gets down, spills... and recovers. No Chelsea player close enough to stab in the rebound.  Welbeck tries to break past the defence but is easily stopped. Chelsea bring the ball up to halfway and then hit a long pass over the top. 8:22PM 23 mins Credit: AFP  No flag! Lacazette is in! A well timed run and Wilshere finds him, Courtois narrows the angle... and Lacazette blasts it wildly over the bar.  Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   8:20PM 21 mins Xhaka shoots low from the free-kick, about 25 yards out, and doesn't score. Nothing happens actually. Chelsea have the ball. 8:19PM 20 mins A rare bad tackle by Kante should probably result in a yellow card for the Frenchman as Iwobi goes on an even rarer driving run through the middle of the defence. Somehow, and I have no idea why, the referee doesn't give a yellow. That's about as textbook a yellow card example as you'll see - from behind, lunging, denying an attacking opportunity, late, done on purpose... how is it not a yellow? It's a good job they have VAR to review... oh. Oh I see. They haven't bothered. Or - and this is possible - I don't know enough about refereeing to accurately call that as a booking, even after several replays. 8:17PM 18 mins Xhaka applauds his teammates as they put each other under pressure in order to keep possession in their own box before turning defence into attack. Lacazette tries to go round the outside of a defender but it doesn't quite work and Chelsea have a goal kick. 8:15PM 17 mins Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:15PM 16 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES That was the tunnel to pitch walk earlier. Very atmospheric. Like a boxing match, or actually something more similar to WWE. The long ball is on for Chelsea and they keep looking for it. Morata's first touch is absolutely brilliant which turns punted kicks into excellent passes.  8:13PM 13 mins Chelsea are patient with their passing, Arsenal drop off and Azpilicueta goes for one of his now-signature long diagonal passes towards Morata. Instead it's Alonso who attacks and a defender has to get the ball away to prevent the chance. Arsenal win a goal kick. Chelsea are looking for this ball over the top of Arsenal's back three for a runner in the space behind the wing-backs. Hazard nearly gets in at goal. 8:10PM 11 mins Xhaka takes a low corner and it comes all the way to Bellerin on the left (the corner was from the right). Alonso takes care of things, Kante cleans up... or does he? Arsenal regain possession high up the pitch but have to pass backwards. There's a nice tempo to the passing  and Arsenal have come out of their own half. 8:08PM 8 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea aren't quite on their game yet.  This graphic pretty perfectly summarises the opening minutes: Average touch positions (6 min)   8:06PM 6 mins Arsenal passing patiently around their own half but seem rather scared of going past halfway, since that is when Chelsea start trying to tackle them. Ospina is nearly put in trouble by a Mustafi back pass. Nearly. 8:04PM 4 mins Arsene Wenger is watching. Wenger and Jens Lehmann take their seats pic.twitter.com/1UVpRe6Uji— Matt McGeehan (@mattmcgeehan) January 10, 2018  I bet he's finding this in no way annoying. Wenger joins media to watch the game pic.twitter.com/FfyB8eGGUo— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 10, 2018   8:03PM 3 mins Arsenal are definitely a three man defence, Mustafi the central centre-back. Chelsea are looking to press at halfway, drawing Arsenal out from the back to create some space. Arsenal are employing a higher press but aren't doing it very well early on. Iwobi sort of tries, Lacazette drops deep, Welbeck tries a bit... Chelsea get forward and Morata hits the side netting. Already!  Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 2 min)   8:00PM KICK-OFF Here we go, here we go, here we go (repeat x infinity). 7:56PM David Luiz is there Credit: REUTERS Could we see the Brazilian playing tonight? Probably not. And if you read some... let's not call it news, because it isn't, but very tenuous links on pages that are usually proven entirely factually inaccurate have linked Luiz with a move away from west London this transfer window. Barcelona and Arsenal are the touted destinations. Not for me, Clive. 7:50PM Antonio Conte's thoughts "For sure it is a trophy and for this reason we want to reach the final but Arsenal will be the same." 7:44PM There he is Credit: REUTERS The other big talking point this evening, other than the game of football, is VAR. Quite why clubs are required to invest in extremely expensive equipment to review decisions instead of just watching a live feed already available in the grounds doesn't make an awful lot of sense to me. They have monitors in the press box - just give referees one of them! 7:34PM Francis Coquelin Au revoir Francis! The midfielder has signed for Valencia for a £12million transfer fee.  7:15PM Wenger looking forward to VAR "Well we look forward to this because we lost at the weekend. Being out of the FA Cup that we won many times and being in the semi final of the LC it becomes an important game. "[Ozil] has a reoccurrance of his knee problem, he saw a specialist today, we hope it is short term. He came in and couldn't practise." WHY IS SANCHEZ ON THE BENCH, EH? "You cannot explain every decision but that is the decision of the game. He is ready to play a part in this game." Are you excited about VAR helping penalty decisions? "Yes of course because I think sometimes at real pace its hard to detect what is a penalty."  7:06PM Barkley in a Chelsea strip Credit: GETTY IMAGES Well, it's not an actual kit, but the team clothing. Look away Everton fans.  7:02PM Starting lineups Chelsea Team to face Arsenal: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Alonso; Hazard, Morata. #CHEARSpic.twitter.com/jbcvsjsgXG— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 10, 2018 Arsenal NO SANCHEZ! He is on the bench, and has played quite a lot of games... but... �� TEAM NEWS ��#CFCvAFCpic.twitter.com/V7uEqX9Hlh— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 10, 2018   6:37PM Arsene Wenger's seat Credit: PA Credit: PA This is where Arsene Wenger will have to watch today's game, which is in the press box. That's the same bit that lucky journalists get to do 'work' (it is actually work) while taking in the match, which might mean we get some quotes from the man himself. That is unless he's taken some friends with him to hide between. Like Huell from Breaking Bad. 6:22PM Good evening Hello everyone, welcome to our liveblog for the second first leg of this season's League Cup semi-finals. Man City left it late yesterday against Bristol City but may have taken things a little too easy - neither team can afford to approach tonight's match in the same manner. Chelsea just announced a new contract has been agreed with Andreas Christensen and the Dane may well start this evening. Antonio Conte is unlikely to name a weakened first XI for this one even after a hectic festive schedule and more big names will surely play too. Ross Barkley won't make it because he's still recovering from a hamstring injury, Danny Drinkwater might start ahead of Tiemoue Bakayoko. N'Golo Kante has never-ending energy and could play every game if he wanted, probably. Credit: PA Arsenal's injury list, as ever, is long and worrying. Koscielny, Monreal, Giroud, Kolasinac and Ramsey are all out while Mustafi, Xhaka and Ozil are serious doubts. And so Wenger must turn to the youth team and an allegedly naughty Alex Iwobi to try and win this one. Lacazette might finally get 90 minutes, Danny Welbeck may actually get a game and David Ospina will be risked deployed in goal. And yes, Alexis Sanchez will probably play too. Could this be his last game for Arsenal? Will he actually start? We'll find out when the teams are announced at 19:00.

Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0, League Cup semi-final first leg: VAR in the spotlight in London derby stalemate

The ‘VAR’ was used but this was more a ‘Very Average Response’ as Chelsea and Arsenal played out a goalless stalemate in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final. The Video Assistant Referee was called upon, to help adjudicate on two penalties claims, one for each side, and it was correct that neither was given even if the sight of the official Martin Atkinson pressing his finger to his ear added to the fans’ confused frustration. Instead it was an encounter which also left Arsenal supporters wondering if Alexis Sanchez will be at the club for the second leg, in a fortnight’s time, after he started on the substitutes’ bench and with a January move to Manchester City appearing increasingly likely. Arsene Wenger later denied that was the case while confirming that Jack Wilshere, his captain for the night, had suffered yet another injury to add to Arsenal’s worrying roll call of absentees. However the midfielder’s apparent ankle strain, received in blocking a shot, should not keep him out too long. It is hoped. Wenger watched the match from the press box – serving the second game of his three-fixture ban – and was, frankly, more entertaining that what happened out on the pitch, at times. It was a close-by study for reporters on the agonies that a manager goes through as he slammed his desk, kicked the seat in front of him and failed to stifle the odd shout over decisions or his players not being in position even if he was 25 yards away. Was this Alexis Sanchez's final game as an Arsenal player? Credit: CAMERASPORT By the end Arsenal commendably kept Chelsea at bay and there was also a sense that there is too much of a familiarity about these two teams now. This was their fourth meeting of the season, their fourth draw, but this was a far cry from the thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates last week. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte marched onto the pitch to speak to Atkinson at the final whistle – having drawn an imaginary ‘TV’ with his hands, presumably calling for another video referral – but later said he had only questioned an offside call. There were chances. But, crucially, both Chelsea and Arsenal are carrying strikers at present who are suffering from a lack of confidence which was evidenced in the opening two minutes when Alvaro Morata was put through by Eden Hazard only to snatch at the chance and prod the ball into the side-netting. Wenger joined journalists in the press box Credit: REUTERS Then, with Arsenal’s first, and best, opening, superbly fashioned by Wilshere, who was their most positive, influential player, as he lifted the ball through, Alexandre Lacazette had the chance to run at goal but slashed wildly at his shot from just inside the penalty area and struck it high over the cross-bar. He had to do better. Arsenal will, of course, come away the happier and rightly so. It is all to play for but they are at home and after going out of the FA Cup so pitifully last Sunday, away to Nottingham Forest, this was a performance that showed the resolve and determination they so sorely lacked. It was a different XI, also, although Alex Iwobi – accused of partying late too close to the Forest game – surprisingly kept his place while Sanchez, expected to start, was benched before he came on in the second-half but to little effect. Chelsea will feel they created enough opportunities to have won, maybe even to have put this tie to bed, but it is three draws in a row for them in all competitions and further evidence as to why they are looking for another striker during this window with Morata needing a rest, and back-up, and little faith in Michy Batshuayi who also came on as a late substitute and headed over the one opening that came his way. Neither could Conte turn to new signing, Ross Barkley, who was not deemed fit enough. Average touch positions (0 min) Chelsea struck the post in the first-half, from a Victor Moses shot, although goalkeeper David Ospina will have felt he had it covered, and did so again late on when Cesc Fabregas’s cross was deflected onto the outside of the goal-frame. The first penalty claim came when Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beat out Iwobi’s powerful shot, after a mistake by Antonio Rudiger who unwisely tried to pass the ball out of his own area to Danny Drinkwater only for it to be intercepted. The rebound fell to Ainsley Maitland-Niles and he attempted to burst past Moses, going down. There were chants of “VAR” from the Arsenal fans but the penalty appeal was rejected after Atkinson clearly – with his hand to his ear – consulted with Neil Swarbrick, the official back at the television headquarters. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal In the second-half Chelsea laid siege. Marcos Alonso flicked on a cross to Andreas Christensen who headed over, at full stretch, from a couple of yards out. He should have scored. The ball bounced off Morata at close-range from another corner before the striker ran at goal and struck a powerful 25-yard shot that Ospina turned away. Then Morata hit the side-netting again as the goalkeeper rushed out. It continued. Mustafi cut out Moses’ goal-bound shot for a corner, Christensen headed wastefully wide once more, Hazard elected to pass when he had to shoot and then Chelsea questioned whether they should have had a penalty as Fabregas went over under Danny Welbeck’s challenge and again Atkinson delayed, pressing his hand to his ear, but again it was not given. It remains on the edge. 10:20PM Antonio Conte "I think when there are this type of situation you have adapt about this and you have to check but at the same time if you have to check in extra time I think you have to consider this, for me the only disappointment is about extra time because I think in the second half the doctor went on the pitch twice and the referee stop to listen to the VAR, you have to give more minutes extra time. In Italy sometimes extra time is seven, eight minutes. "It's important every game to try to win, we tried with all of our strength, created chances to score. The last few times we are not so clinical and despite you shoot for 20 times we don't score and I think we have a reflect on this stat. "[Hazard] was a technical substitution. "Every game is different. For example if you compare this game with last game with Arsenal, Arsenal played this a very different way. They stayed very deep to exploit the counter-attack. The last game was more open and the both teams tried to win the game. They played very well defensively and it was another game today." 10:07PM Arsene Wenger confirms Coquelin is gone We already knew but Wenger has just confirmed that Coquelin is off to Valencia. He's also not sure whether Wilshere has come out of this game unscathed but that Ramsey should be back soon. 10:02PM Arsenal post-match reaction Callum Chambers "Very pleased, I think it's a good result and we were strong at the back. The boys dug in. "You're aware, you can see them talking in their ear so it's one of those, gotta get used to it.  "It was a good defensively display from the whole team and I think that's the best thing to come from tonight. "We've been playing Chelsea a lot recently so we know how they play, they know how we play. I thought tonight we were up for it, up for the fight." Danny Welbeck "I didn't know the VAR was actually for that incident, I knew I got the ball so. I could see him talking in his ear but I knew I got the ball clearly so I wasn't worried. "I know whatever tactics we use when I get on the pitch I give my all. " 9:59PM How the shapes changed during the match Average touch positions (0 min)   9:51PM FULL TIME That's a fair result. The teams cancelled each other out, adjusted tactically during the game and were able to create chances, although none that should have turned into goals. The second leg will be ace. 9:50PM 90 mins +5 Arsenal have done well here. Chelsea have had all the chances: Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  But Arsenal have been a match for everything thrown at them. Chelsea go looking for one last chance. Can they get it? 9:47PM 90 mins +2 Sanchez is all on his own surrounded by five Chelsea players and can't hold on to the ball. Arsenal are looking to just see out the 0-0 here. 9:45PM 90 mins Oooooh but now Martin Atkinson is talking to the VAR. The replay isn't conclusive at all! It looks like Welbeck gets some of the ball but also takes out Fabregas in the area. Is it clear and obvious? We wait. No! It's a corner. Anti-climax but at least it's the right decision. The referees all think it's no penalty, everyone can be happy. 9:43PM 88 mins PENALTY! Is it? The referee says no instantly! There will be no VAR decision again. Fabregas went down at high speed there. Chelsea have a corner. 9:43PM 87 mins I think Sanchez has given the ball away almost every single time he's tried to pass forward since coming on. He's busy though, and is looking to make things happen. Xhaka tries to shoot from 30 yards. No goals occur. Elneny is booked for bringing down Morata in the Arsenal half. Batshuayi comes on to replace the Spaniard. 9:40PM 85 mins Sanchez wins a free-kick from a Willian tackle and wants to take it himself. Hazard is taken off for Bakayoko, which might mean a switch back to the 3-1-4-2 from earlier when Chelsea were dominating. The free-kick goes short to Elneny and is rubbish. Chelsea break until Morata runs the ball out of play for a throw. 9:39PM 83 mins Sanchez tries to press but nobody else has quite as much energy and Chelsea easily bypass it. Fabregas can't reach a forward pass and Arsenal win possession. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   9:36PM 80 mins Kante is booked for bringing down Welbeck and that's where the earlier yellow card he didn't get comes into play. Because that should probably his second! Controversial scenes. Sanchez stands over the free-kick, curls it in and puts it ahead of everyone in the box. Mustafi can't get there and it's a goal kick. 9:35PM 79 mins Sanchez carries the ball at pace and tries to release Welbeck.. but is blocked. Chelsea turn that into an attack and Alonso shoots from 25 yards but is saved. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Marcos Alonso, 77 min) Sanchez is bouncing around shouting at teammates who have the audacity not to pass to him. Welbeck takes the chance to shoot and gets that friendly treatment too. 9:31PM 76 mins Willian has a pop from 25 yards but Ospina saves on the dive, making it look relatively easy, if not slightly over dramatic.  Sanchez is trying to get involved in the game but hasn't quite been able to do so yet. 9:29PM 73 mins That's the Iwobi we're more used to. Arsenal break quickly, Iwobi goes through the middle and then snatches at his shot, watching it dribble towards goal. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alex Iwobi, 72 min) He could be such an amazing player with just a bit of work. 9:26PM 70 mins Calum Chambers is down in pain now. His studs get caught in the grass a little bit as he tries to turn and he goes down visibly uncomfortable. He's not clawing at the air desperately as though it's a real bad one and he's on his feet now anyway. 9:24PM 68 mins Drinkwater off, Willian on. That might mean a change of shape to a 3-4-3 rather than 3-1-4-2. Kante will shift into a central midfield slot beside Fabregas. 9:23PM 67 mins Chelsea are increasing the pressure on Arsenal's backline. Welbeck gives away a free-kick wide right and shockingly, beyond any realm of imagination, it is Lacazette who comes off for Sanchez. Shiver my timbers. The free-kick goes all the way left, Alonso puts it back in and Moses has space! He controls and then thrashes a shot at goal but a block by Mustafi turns it over. This corner is curled in, Ospina is lost in the middle of nowhere - dreadful goalkeeping - and Christensen meets the cross. It's an open goal... but wide. Close for Chelsea!   9:21PM 65 mins Alexis Sanchez is getting ready to come on. I wonder who will be substituted? Let's see... it's nearly the 70th minute and Lacazette hasn't scored which means... it's probably... definitely going to be.... 9:19PM 63 mins Arsenal finally get forward and Maitland-Niles looks up from the left wing and chips a lovely ball over the defenders towards Welbeck in the middle. Chelsea get it away. Average touch positions (61 min) You can see Chelsea's shape very clearly here but Arsenal's is a little confusing.  9:16PM 61 mins Arsenal could do with changing something here. Chelsea are all over them. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  Arsenal getting most players behind the ball now, absorbing the Chelsea attacks before making lame attempts at counter-attacks. Chelsea passing around confidently, going for direct balls towards the wings and Morata. 9:14PM 58 mins Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 56 min) Great save from Ospina! And Morata goes close again just after Wilshere is replaced by Elneny. Mustafi wants a foul for jumping too early and bouncing off the striker, Ospina comes out and Morata tries to squeeze a tight shot underneath the goalie. Goal kick. 9:13PM 56 mins A corner is whipped into the near post, Alonso gets something to it but can only force the shot wide. Wilshere is treated by Arsenal's physio a.k.a Gale from Breaking Bad but is back on the pitch. The shot from Drinkwater came off his dangling leg and could well have jarred the ligaments, the kind of thing that happens in five a side to at least one person every week. It looks like he might have to come off after all. Credit: REUTERS  Hopefully that's just a precaution. 9:10PM 55 mins Arsenal are trying to play out from the back but just cannot do it! The press is really intense and high and defenders are being forced into the six yard box to make a pass. Whenever that happens the high pass needed gives possession back to Chelsea. Chelsea have a corner after Drinkwater batters a ball from close range off Wilshere's ankle. Oh dear. He's down having treatment. 9:08PM 52 mins Booking for Xhaka. I had that sentence ready to paste.  He slides in and takes out Rudiger after another poor bit of play handed Chelsea possession deep in Arsenal's half. Alonso is lining up a 25 yard shot here. 9:07PM 51 mins Chelsea are more on the front foot in this half than they were the first. They're taking the game to Arsenal and look dangerous. They're also pressing higher up the pitch, getting Moses and Alonso further forward.  Kante and Drinkwater keep things ticking over in midfield while Chelsea attack down the flanks. 9:03PM 48 mins Kante is on the hunt for goals here. He's just had another go from inside the box with a difficult narrow angle volley but hits his own player. AND CHRISTENSEN AT THE BACK POST! Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Andreas Christensen, 47 min) So close! He might actually have done better there. Mustafi is beaten as the ball bounces off a head and falls to the Dane but he puts a bit too much on the header and it goes over. 9:01PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! 9:00PM Ross Barkley on the pitch He's waving at the fans, taking selfies, applauding - all of this while carrying a hamstring injury. What a guy. 8:58PM No VAR yet VAR has been utilised a few times so far then but nothing incredible has come of it. No penalties, yellow cards or reversed decisions. That said, at least Martin Atkinson has been sure of all the choices he has made in this game. He'll sleep well tonight.  8:47PM HALF TIME That was entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it. No goals though. I have particularly been interested in Arsenal's strange 3-6-1 formation. Average touch positions (half time) 8:46PM 45 mins Free-kick to Chelsea wide right. It's crossed in and Welbeck clears for a corner. Fabregas gets it short, Hazard crosses backwards to Azpilicueta... who goes for the ball over the top again! Fabregas is in behind the defence and one on one! He heads at goal... but straight at Ospina! Saved!  Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Cesc Fàbregas, 45 min)   8:43PM 43 mins Hazard is quick onto a smart flick from Morata but Ospina watches it and comes off his line to smother the through ball. Maitland-Niles has taken his turn to trick his way past Moses but runs out of room and nearly goes over the advertising boards. 8:39PM 40 mins Good save by Courtois! The shot is parried from Iwobi as the ball drops to him and then Moses looks to have tripped Maitland-Niles in the area! Moses scarpers away... Martin Atkinson gets advice from the VAR... will it be? WILL IT BE?  No. 8:37PM 38 mins Mustafi is way too eager to stop Morata kicking the ball and brings him down for a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Fabregas takes it short for Kante! Surprise! He gets it all wrong and slices with power over the bar. Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (N'Golo Kanté, 37 min)   8:33PM 35 mins Iwobi has been Arsenal's best player tonight. He's working really hard, making clever driving runs through the middle when the chance is on and is covering his defensive positions too. This is instead of the usual sideways passing, refusing to shoot Iwobi that we're used to. Chelsea win a corner after a Maitland-Niles error but Drinkwater hoofs a shot way over the bar. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:31PM 32 mins Credit: AFP Arsenal have another corner. This time Xhaka gets a better deliver and Mustafi puts his head on it. Wide.  8:30PM 31 mins VAR ALERT! Azpilicueta has been shoved to the ground by Chambers while they grapple for a corner. The referee has looked at the evidence, and then done exactly what he would have done if he hadn't seen it. Nothing. Xhaka is getting pelters from the Chelsea fans by his corner and hurriedly takes it, failing to clear the near post. The supporters love it.  8:28PM 28 mins Drinkwater is neat, turns back and plays Kante in, who drives forward and nobody can get close. The ball ends up with Alonso, who teases Bellerin before hitting a low diagonal into the box that Morata very nearly turns at goal. Ospina would have had to do something special to save if Morata had been able to get a touch. Maitland-Niles has been done by Moses again... Chelsea will start probing that weakness from here on. They've figured it out and Moses is enjoying himself. 8:25PM 26 mins Great effort by Moses who cuts inside from the left, goes past Maitland-Niles without even really trying and then thumps a low shot at the near post. Ospina gets down, spills... and recovers. No Chelsea player close enough to stab in the rebound.  Welbeck tries to break past the defence but is easily stopped. Chelsea bring the ball up to halfway and then hit a long pass over the top. 8:22PM 23 mins Credit: AFP  No flag! Lacazette is in! A well timed run and Wilshere finds him, Courtois narrows the angle... and Lacazette blasts it wildly over the bar.  Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   8:20PM 21 mins Xhaka shoots low from the free-kick, about 25 yards out, and doesn't score. Nothing happens actually. Chelsea have the ball. 8:19PM 20 mins A rare bad tackle by Kante should probably result in a yellow card for the Frenchman as Iwobi goes on an even rarer driving run through the middle of the defence. Somehow, and I have no idea why, the referee doesn't give a yellow. That's about as textbook a yellow card example as you'll see - from behind, lunging, denying an attacking opportunity, late, done on purpose... how is it not a yellow? It's a good job they have VAR to review... oh. Oh I see. They haven't bothered. Or - and this is possible - I don't know enough about refereeing to accurately call that as a booking, even after several replays. 8:17PM 18 mins Xhaka applauds his teammates as they put each other under pressure in order to keep possession in their own box before turning defence into attack. Lacazette tries to go round the outside of a defender but it doesn't quite work and Chelsea have a goal kick. 8:15PM 17 mins Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:15PM 16 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES That was the tunnel to pitch walk earlier. Very atmospheric. Like a boxing match, or actually something more similar to WWE. The long ball is on for Chelsea and they keep looking for it. Morata's first touch is absolutely brilliant which turns punted kicks into excellent passes.  8:13PM 13 mins Chelsea are patient with their passing, Arsenal drop off and Azpilicueta goes for one of his now-signature long diagonal passes towards Morata. Instead it's Alonso who attacks and a defender has to get the ball away to prevent the chance. Arsenal win a goal kick. Chelsea are looking for this ball over the top of Arsenal's back three for a runner in the space behind the wing-backs. Hazard nearly gets in at goal. 8:10PM 11 mins Xhaka takes a low corner and it comes all the way to Bellerin on the left (the corner was from the right). Alonso takes care of things, Kante cleans up... or does he? Arsenal regain possession high up the pitch but have to pass backwards. There's a nice tempo to the passing  and Arsenal have come out of their own half. 8:08PM 8 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea aren't quite on their game yet.  This graphic pretty perfectly summarises the opening minutes: Average touch positions (6 min)   8:06PM 6 mins Arsenal passing patiently around their own half but seem rather scared of going past halfway, since that is when Chelsea start trying to tackle them. Ospina is nearly put in trouble by a Mustafi back pass. Nearly. 8:04PM 4 mins Arsene Wenger is watching. Wenger and Jens Lehmann take their seats pic.twitter.com/1UVpRe6Uji— Matt McGeehan (@mattmcgeehan) January 10, 2018  I bet he's finding this in no way annoying. Wenger joins media to watch the game pic.twitter.com/FfyB8eGGUo— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 10, 2018   8:03PM 3 mins Arsenal are definitely a three man defence, Mustafi the central centre-back. Chelsea are looking to press at halfway, drawing Arsenal out from the back to create some space. Arsenal are employing a higher press but aren't doing it very well early on. Iwobi sort of tries, Lacazette drops deep, Welbeck tries a bit... Chelsea get forward and Morata hits the side netting. Already!  Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 2 min)   8:00PM KICK-OFF Here we go, here we go, here we go (repeat x infinity). 7:56PM David Luiz is there Credit: REUTERS Could we see the Brazilian playing tonight? Probably not. And if you read some... let's not call it news, because it isn't, but very tenuous links on pages that are usually proven entirely factually inaccurate have linked Luiz with a move away from west London this transfer window. Barcelona and Arsenal are the touted destinations. Not for me, Clive. 7:50PM Antonio Conte's thoughts "For sure it is a trophy and for this reason we want to reach the final but Arsenal will be the same." 7:44PM There he is Credit: REUTERS The other big talking point this evening, other than the game of football, is VAR. Quite why clubs are required to invest in extremely expensive equipment to review decisions instead of just watching a live feed already available in the grounds doesn't make an awful lot of sense to me. They have monitors in the press box - just give referees one of them! 7:34PM Francis Coquelin Au revoir Francis! The midfielder has signed for Valencia for a £12million transfer fee.  7:15PM Wenger looking forward to VAR "Well we look forward to this because we lost at the weekend. Being out of the FA Cup that we won many times and being in the semi final of the LC it becomes an important game. "[Ozil] has a reoccurrance of his knee problem, he saw a specialist today, we hope it is short term. He came in and couldn't practise." WHY IS SANCHEZ ON THE BENCH, EH? "You cannot explain every decision but that is the decision of the game. He is ready to play a part in this game." Are you excited about VAR helping penalty decisions? "Yes of course because I think sometimes at real pace its hard to detect what is a penalty."  7:06PM Barkley in a Chelsea strip Credit: GETTY IMAGES Well, it's not an actual kit, but the team clothing. Look away Everton fans.  7:02PM Starting lineups Chelsea Team to face Arsenal: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Alonso; Hazard, Morata. #CHEARSpic.twitter.com/jbcvsjsgXG— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 10, 2018 Arsenal NO SANCHEZ! He is on the bench, and has played quite a lot of games... but... �� TEAM NEWS ��#CFCvAFCpic.twitter.com/V7uEqX9Hlh— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 10, 2018   6:37PM Arsene Wenger's seat Credit: PA Credit: PA This is where Arsene Wenger will have to watch today's game, which is in the press box. That's the same bit that lucky journalists get to do 'work' (it is actually work) while taking in the match, which might mean we get some quotes from the man himself. That is unless he's taken some friends with him to hide between. Like Huell from Breaking Bad. 6:22PM Good evening Hello everyone, welcome to our liveblog for the second first leg of this season's League Cup semi-finals. Man City left it late yesterday against Bristol City but may have taken things a little too easy - neither team can afford to approach tonight's match in the same manner. Chelsea just announced a new contract has been agreed with Andreas Christensen and the Dane may well start this evening. Antonio Conte is unlikely to name a weakened first XI for this one even after a hectic festive schedule and more big names will surely play too. Ross Barkley won't make it because he's still recovering from a hamstring injury, Danny Drinkwater might start ahead of Tiemoue Bakayoko. N'Golo Kante has never-ending energy and could play every game if he wanted, probably. Credit: PA Arsenal's injury list, as ever, is long and worrying. Koscielny, Monreal, Giroud, Kolasinac and Ramsey are all out while Mustafi, Xhaka and Ozil are serious doubts. And so Wenger must turn to the youth team and an allegedly naughty Alex Iwobi to try and win this one. Lacazette might finally get 90 minutes, Danny Welbeck may actually get a game and David Ospina will be risked deployed in goal. And yes, Alexis Sanchez will probably play too. Could this be his last game for Arsenal? Will he actually start? We'll find out when the teams are announced at 19:00.

Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0, League Cup semi-final first leg: VAR in the spotlight in London derby stalemate

The ‘VAR’ was used but this was more a ‘Very Average Response’ as Chelsea and Arsenal played out a goalless stalemate in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final. The Video Assistant Referee was called upon, to help adjudicate on two penalties claims, one for each side, and it was correct that neither was given even if the sight of the official Martin Atkinson pressing his finger to his ear added to the fans’ confused frustration. Instead it was an encounter which also left Arsenal supporters wondering if Alexis Sanchez will be at the club for the second leg, in a fortnight’s time, after he started on the substitutes’ bench and with a January move to Manchester City appearing increasingly likely. Arsene Wenger later denied that was the case while confirming that Jack Wilshere, his captain for the night, had suffered yet another injury to add to Arsenal’s worrying roll call of absentees. However the midfielder’s apparent ankle strain, received in blocking a shot, should not keep him out too long. It is hoped. Wenger watched the match from the press box – serving the second game of his three-fixture ban – and was, frankly, more entertaining that what happened out on the pitch, at times. It was a close-by study for reporters on the agonies that a manager goes through as he slammed his desk, kicked the seat in front of him and failed to stifle the odd shout over decisions or his players not being in position even if he was 25 yards away. Was this Alexis Sanchez's final game as an Arsenal player? Credit: CAMERASPORT By the end Arsenal commendably kept Chelsea at bay and there was also a sense that there is too much of a familiarity about these two teams now. This was their fourth meeting of the season, their fourth draw, but this was a far cry from the thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates last week. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte marched onto the pitch to speak to Atkinson at the final whistle – having drawn an imaginary ‘TV’ with his hands, presumably calling for another video referral – but later said he had only questioned an offside call. There were chances. But, crucially, both Chelsea and Arsenal are carrying strikers at present who are suffering from a lack of confidence which was evidenced in the opening two minutes when Alvaro Morata was put through by Eden Hazard only to snatch at the chance and prod the ball into the side-netting. Wenger joined journalists in the press box Credit: REUTERS Then, with Arsenal’s first, and best, opening, superbly fashioned by Wilshere, who was their most positive, influential player, as he lifted the ball through, Alexandre Lacazette had the chance to run at goal but slashed wildly at his shot from just inside the penalty area and struck it high over the cross-bar. He had to do better. Arsenal will, of course, come away the happier and rightly so. It is all to play for but they are at home and after going out of the FA Cup so pitifully last Sunday, away to Nottingham Forest, this was a performance that showed the resolve and determination they so sorely lacked. It was a different XI, also, although Alex Iwobi – accused of partying late too close to the Forest game – surprisingly kept his place while Sanchez, expected to start, was benched before he came on in the second-half but to little effect. Chelsea will feel they created enough opportunities to have won, maybe even to have put this tie to bed, but it is three draws in a row for them in all competitions and further evidence as to why they are looking for another striker during this window with Morata needing a rest, and back-up, and little faith in Michy Batshuayi who also came on as a late substitute and headed over the one opening that came his way. Neither could Conte turn to new signing, Ross Barkley, who was not deemed fit enough. Average touch positions (0 min) Chelsea struck the post in the first-half, from a Victor Moses shot, although goalkeeper David Ospina will have felt he had it covered, and did so again late on when Cesc Fabregas’s cross was deflected onto the outside of the goal-frame. The first penalty claim came when Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beat out Iwobi’s powerful shot, after a mistake by Antonio Rudiger who unwisely tried to pass the ball out of his own area to Danny Drinkwater only for it to be intercepted. The rebound fell to Ainsley Maitland-Niles and he attempted to burst past Moses, going down. There were chants of “VAR” from the Arsenal fans but the penalty appeal was rejected after Atkinson clearly – with his hand to his ear – consulted with Neil Swarbrick, the official back at the television headquarters. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal In the second-half Chelsea laid siege. Marcos Alonso flicked on a cross to Andreas Christensen who headed over, at full stretch, from a couple of yards out. He should have scored. The ball bounced off Morata at close-range from another corner before the striker ran at goal and struck a powerful 25-yard shot that Ospina turned away. Then Morata hit the side-netting again as the goalkeeper rushed out. It continued. Mustafi cut out Moses’ goal-bound shot for a corner, Christensen headed wastefully wide once more, Hazard elected to pass when he had to shoot and then Chelsea questioned whether they should have had a penalty as Fabregas went over under Danny Welbeck’s challenge and again Atkinson delayed, pressing his hand to his ear, but again it was not given. It remains on the edge. 10:20PM Antonio Conte "I think when there are this type of situation you have adapt about this and you have to check but at the same time if you have to check in extra time I think you have to consider this, for me the only disappointment is about extra time because I think in the second half the doctor went on the pitch twice and the referee stop to listen to the VAR, you have to give more minutes extra time. In Italy sometimes extra time is seven, eight minutes. "It's important every game to try to win, we tried with all of our strength, created chances to score. The last few times we are not so clinical and despite you shoot for 20 times we don't score and I think we have a reflect on this stat. "[Hazard] was a technical substitution. "Every game is different. For example if you compare this game with last game with Arsenal, Arsenal played this a very different way. They stayed very deep to exploit the counter-attack. The last game was more open and the both teams tried to win the game. They played very well defensively and it was another game today." 10:07PM Arsene Wenger confirms Coquelin is gone We already knew but Wenger has just confirmed that Coquelin is off to Valencia. He's also not sure whether Wilshere has come out of this game unscathed but that Ramsey should be back soon. 10:02PM Arsenal post-match reaction Callum Chambers "Very pleased, I think it's a good result and we were strong at the back. The boys dug in. "You're aware, you can see them talking in their ear so it's one of those, gotta get used to it.  "It was a good defensively display from the whole team and I think that's the best thing to come from tonight. "We've been playing Chelsea a lot recently so we know how they play, they know how we play. I thought tonight we were up for it, up for the fight." Danny Welbeck "I didn't know the VAR was actually for that incident, I knew I got the ball so. I could see him talking in his ear but I knew I got the ball clearly so I wasn't worried. "I know whatever tactics we use when I get on the pitch I give my all. " 9:59PM How the shapes changed during the match Average touch positions (0 min)   9:51PM FULL TIME That's a fair result. The teams cancelled each other out, adjusted tactically during the game and were able to create chances, although none that should have turned into goals. The second leg will be ace. 9:50PM 90 mins +5 Arsenal have done well here. Chelsea have had all the chances: Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  But Arsenal have been a match for everything thrown at them. Chelsea go looking for one last chance. Can they get it? 9:47PM 90 mins +2 Sanchez is all on his own surrounded by five Chelsea players and can't hold on to the ball. Arsenal are looking to just see out the 0-0 here. 9:45PM 90 mins Oooooh but now Martin Atkinson is talking to the VAR. The replay isn't conclusive at all! It looks like Welbeck gets some of the ball but also takes out Fabregas in the area. Is it clear and obvious? We wait. No! It's a corner. Anti-climax but at least it's the right decision. The referees all think it's no penalty, everyone can be happy. 9:43PM 88 mins PENALTY! Is it? The referee says no instantly! There will be no VAR decision again. Fabregas went down at high speed there. Chelsea have a corner. 9:43PM 87 mins I think Sanchez has given the ball away almost every single time he's tried to pass forward since coming on. He's busy though, and is looking to make things happen. Xhaka tries to shoot from 30 yards. No goals occur. Elneny is booked for bringing down Morata in the Arsenal half. Batshuayi comes on to replace the Spaniard. 9:40PM 85 mins Sanchez wins a free-kick from a Willian tackle and wants to take it himself. Hazard is taken off for Bakayoko, which might mean a switch back to the 3-1-4-2 from earlier when Chelsea were dominating. The free-kick goes short to Elneny and is rubbish. Chelsea break until Morata runs the ball out of play for a throw. 9:39PM 83 mins Sanchez tries to press but nobody else has quite as much energy and Chelsea easily bypass it. Fabregas can't reach a forward pass and Arsenal win possession. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   9:36PM 80 mins Kante is booked for bringing down Welbeck and that's where the earlier yellow card he didn't get comes into play. Because that should probably his second! Controversial scenes. Sanchez stands over the free-kick, curls it in and puts it ahead of everyone in the box. Mustafi can't get there and it's a goal kick. 9:35PM 79 mins Sanchez carries the ball at pace and tries to release Welbeck.. but is blocked. Chelsea turn that into an attack and Alonso shoots from 25 yards but is saved. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Marcos Alonso, 77 min) Sanchez is bouncing around shouting at teammates who have the audacity not to pass to him. Welbeck takes the chance to shoot and gets that friendly treatment too. 9:31PM 76 mins Willian has a pop from 25 yards but Ospina saves on the dive, making it look relatively easy, if not slightly over dramatic.  Sanchez is trying to get involved in the game but hasn't quite been able to do so yet. 9:29PM 73 mins That's the Iwobi we're more used to. Arsenal break quickly, Iwobi goes through the middle and then snatches at his shot, watching it dribble towards goal. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alex Iwobi, 72 min) He could be such an amazing player with just a bit of work. 9:26PM 70 mins Calum Chambers is down in pain now. His studs get caught in the grass a little bit as he tries to turn and he goes down visibly uncomfortable. He's not clawing at the air desperately as though it's a real bad one and he's on his feet now anyway. 9:24PM 68 mins Drinkwater off, Willian on. That might mean a change of shape to a 3-4-3 rather than 3-1-4-2. Kante will shift into a central midfield slot beside Fabregas. 9:23PM 67 mins Chelsea are increasing the pressure on Arsenal's backline. Welbeck gives away a free-kick wide right and shockingly, beyond any realm of imagination, it is Lacazette who comes off for Sanchez. Shiver my timbers. The free-kick goes all the way left, Alonso puts it back in and Moses has space! He controls and then thrashes a shot at goal but a block by Mustafi turns it over. This corner is curled in, Ospina is lost in the middle of nowhere - dreadful goalkeeping - and Christensen meets the cross. It's an open goal... but wide. Close for Chelsea!   9:21PM 65 mins Alexis Sanchez is getting ready to come on. I wonder who will be substituted? Let's see... it's nearly the 70th minute and Lacazette hasn't scored which means... it's probably... definitely going to be.... 9:19PM 63 mins Arsenal finally get forward and Maitland-Niles looks up from the left wing and chips a lovely ball over the defenders towards Welbeck in the middle. Chelsea get it away. Average touch positions (61 min) You can see Chelsea's shape very clearly here but Arsenal's is a little confusing.  9:16PM 61 mins Arsenal could do with changing something here. Chelsea are all over them. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  Arsenal getting most players behind the ball now, absorbing the Chelsea attacks before making lame attempts at counter-attacks. Chelsea passing around confidently, going for direct balls towards the wings and Morata. 9:14PM 58 mins Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 56 min) Great save from Ospina! And Morata goes close again just after Wilshere is replaced by Elneny. Mustafi wants a foul for jumping too early and bouncing off the striker, Ospina comes out and Morata tries to squeeze a tight shot underneath the goalie. Goal kick. 9:13PM 56 mins A corner is whipped into the near post, Alonso gets something to it but can only force the shot wide. Wilshere is treated by Arsenal's physio a.k.a Gale from Breaking Bad but is back on the pitch. The shot from Drinkwater came off his dangling leg and could well have jarred the ligaments, the kind of thing that happens in five a side to at least one person every week. It looks like he might have to come off after all. Credit: REUTERS  Hopefully that's just a precaution. 9:10PM 55 mins Arsenal are trying to play out from the back but just cannot do it! The press is really intense and high and defenders are being forced into the six yard box to make a pass. Whenever that happens the high pass needed gives possession back to Chelsea. Chelsea have a corner after Drinkwater batters a ball from close range off Wilshere's ankle. Oh dear. He's down having treatment. 9:08PM 52 mins Booking for Xhaka. I had that sentence ready to paste.  He slides in and takes out Rudiger after another poor bit of play handed Chelsea possession deep in Arsenal's half. Alonso is lining up a 25 yard shot here. 9:07PM 51 mins Chelsea are more on the front foot in this half than they were the first. They're taking the game to Arsenal and look dangerous. They're also pressing higher up the pitch, getting Moses and Alonso further forward.  Kante and Drinkwater keep things ticking over in midfield while Chelsea attack down the flanks. 9:03PM 48 mins Kante is on the hunt for goals here. He's just had another go from inside the box with a difficult narrow angle volley but hits his own player. AND CHRISTENSEN AT THE BACK POST! Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Andreas Christensen, 47 min) So close! He might actually have done better there. Mustafi is beaten as the ball bounces off a head and falls to the Dane but he puts a bit too much on the header and it goes over. 9:01PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! 9:00PM Ross Barkley on the pitch He's waving at the fans, taking selfies, applauding - all of this while carrying a hamstring injury. What a guy. 8:58PM No VAR yet VAR has been utilised a few times so far then but nothing incredible has come of it. No penalties, yellow cards or reversed decisions. That said, at least Martin Atkinson has been sure of all the choices he has made in this game. He'll sleep well tonight.  8:47PM HALF TIME That was entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it. No goals though. I have particularly been interested in Arsenal's strange 3-6-1 formation. Average touch positions (half time) 8:46PM 45 mins Free-kick to Chelsea wide right. It's crossed in and Welbeck clears for a corner. Fabregas gets it short, Hazard crosses backwards to Azpilicueta... who goes for the ball over the top again! Fabregas is in behind the defence and one on one! He heads at goal... but straight at Ospina! Saved!  Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Cesc Fàbregas, 45 min)   8:43PM 43 mins Hazard is quick onto a smart flick from Morata but Ospina watches it and comes off his line to smother the through ball. Maitland-Niles has taken his turn to trick his way past Moses but runs out of room and nearly goes over the advertising boards. 8:39PM 40 mins Good save by Courtois! The shot is parried from Iwobi as the ball drops to him and then Moses looks to have tripped Maitland-Niles in the area! Moses scarpers away... Martin Atkinson gets advice from the VAR... will it be? WILL IT BE?  No. 8:37PM 38 mins Mustafi is way too eager to stop Morata kicking the ball and brings him down for a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Fabregas takes it short for Kante! Surprise! He gets it all wrong and slices with power over the bar. Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (N'Golo Kanté, 37 min)   8:33PM 35 mins Iwobi has been Arsenal's best player tonight. He's working really hard, making clever driving runs through the middle when the chance is on and is covering his defensive positions too. This is instead of the usual sideways passing, refusing to shoot Iwobi that we're used to. Chelsea win a corner after a Maitland-Niles error but Drinkwater hoofs a shot way over the bar. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:31PM 32 mins Credit: AFP Arsenal have another corner. This time Xhaka gets a better deliver and Mustafi puts his head on it. Wide.  8:30PM 31 mins VAR ALERT! Azpilicueta has been shoved to the ground by Chambers while they grapple for a corner. The referee has looked at the evidence, and then done exactly what he would have done if he hadn't seen it. Nothing. Xhaka is getting pelters from the Chelsea fans by his corner and hurriedly takes it, failing to clear the near post. The supporters love it.  8:28PM 28 mins Drinkwater is neat, turns back and plays Kante in, who drives forward and nobody can get close. The ball ends up with Alonso, who teases Bellerin before hitting a low diagonal into the box that Morata very nearly turns at goal. Ospina would have had to do something special to save if Morata had been able to get a touch. Maitland-Niles has been done by Moses again... Chelsea will start probing that weakness from here on. They've figured it out and Moses is enjoying himself. 8:25PM 26 mins Great effort by Moses who cuts inside from the left, goes past Maitland-Niles without even really trying and then thumps a low shot at the near post. Ospina gets down, spills... and recovers. No Chelsea player close enough to stab in the rebound.  Welbeck tries to break past the defence but is easily stopped. Chelsea bring the ball up to halfway and then hit a long pass over the top. 8:22PM 23 mins Credit: AFP  No flag! Lacazette is in! A well timed run and Wilshere finds him, Courtois narrows the angle... and Lacazette blasts it wildly over the bar.  Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   8:20PM 21 mins Xhaka shoots low from the free-kick, about 25 yards out, and doesn't score. Nothing happens actually. Chelsea have the ball. 8:19PM 20 mins A rare bad tackle by Kante should probably result in a yellow card for the Frenchman as Iwobi goes on an even rarer driving run through the middle of the defence. Somehow, and I have no idea why, the referee doesn't give a yellow. That's about as textbook a yellow card example as you'll see - from behind, lunging, denying an attacking opportunity, late, done on purpose... how is it not a yellow? It's a good job they have VAR to review... oh. Oh I see. They haven't bothered. Or - and this is possible - I don't know enough about refereeing to accurately call that as a booking, even after several replays. 8:17PM 18 mins Xhaka applauds his teammates as they put each other under pressure in order to keep possession in their own box before turning defence into attack. Lacazette tries to go round the outside of a defender but it doesn't quite work and Chelsea have a goal kick. 8:15PM 17 mins Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:15PM 16 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES That was the tunnel to pitch walk earlier. Very atmospheric. Like a boxing match, or actually something more similar to WWE. The long ball is on for Chelsea and they keep looking for it. Morata's first touch is absolutely brilliant which turns punted kicks into excellent passes.  8:13PM 13 mins Chelsea are patient with their passing, Arsenal drop off and Azpilicueta goes for one of his now-signature long diagonal passes towards Morata. Instead it's Alonso who attacks and a defender has to get the ball away to prevent the chance. Arsenal win a goal kick. Chelsea are looking for this ball over the top of Arsenal's back three for a runner in the space behind the wing-backs. Hazard nearly gets in at goal. 8:10PM 11 mins Xhaka takes a low corner and it comes all the way to Bellerin on the left (the corner was from the right). Alonso takes care of things, Kante cleans up... or does he? Arsenal regain possession high up the pitch but have to pass backwards. There's a nice tempo to the passing  and Arsenal have come out of their own half. 8:08PM 8 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea aren't quite on their game yet.  This graphic pretty perfectly summarises the opening minutes: Average touch positions (6 min)   8:06PM 6 mins Arsenal passing patiently around their own half but seem rather scared of going past halfway, since that is when Chelsea start trying to tackle them. Ospina is nearly put in trouble by a Mustafi back pass. Nearly. 8:04PM 4 mins Arsene Wenger is watching. Wenger and Jens Lehmann take their seats pic.twitter.com/1UVpRe6Uji— Matt McGeehan (@mattmcgeehan) January 10, 2018  I bet he's finding this in no way annoying. Wenger joins media to watch the game pic.twitter.com/FfyB8eGGUo— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 10, 2018   8:03PM 3 mins Arsenal are definitely a three man defence, Mustafi the central centre-back. Chelsea are looking to press at halfway, drawing Arsenal out from the back to create some space. Arsenal are employing a higher press but aren't doing it very well early on. Iwobi sort of tries, Lacazette drops deep, Welbeck tries a bit... Chelsea get forward and Morata hits the side netting. Already!  Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 2 min)   8:00PM KICK-OFF Here we go, here we go, here we go (repeat x infinity). 7:56PM David Luiz is there Credit: REUTERS Could we see the Brazilian playing tonight? Probably not. And if you read some... let's not call it news, because it isn't, but very tenuous links on pages that are usually proven entirely factually inaccurate have linked Luiz with a move away from west London this transfer window. Barcelona and Arsenal are the touted destinations. Not for me, Clive. 7:50PM Antonio Conte's thoughts "For sure it is a trophy and for this reason we want to reach the final but Arsenal will be the same." 7:44PM There he is Credit: REUTERS The other big talking point this evening, other than the game of football, is VAR. Quite why clubs are required to invest in extremely expensive equipment to review decisions instead of just watching a live feed already available in the grounds doesn't make an awful lot of sense to me. They have monitors in the press box - just give referees one of them! 7:34PM Francis Coquelin Au revoir Francis! The midfielder has signed for Valencia for a £12million transfer fee.  7:15PM Wenger looking forward to VAR "Well we look forward to this because we lost at the weekend. Being out of the FA Cup that we won many times and being in the semi final of the LC it becomes an important game. "[Ozil] has a reoccurrance of his knee problem, he saw a specialist today, we hope it is short term. He came in and couldn't practise." WHY IS SANCHEZ ON THE BENCH, EH? "You cannot explain every decision but that is the decision of the game. He is ready to play a part in this game." Are you excited about VAR helping penalty decisions? "Yes of course because I think sometimes at real pace its hard to detect what is a penalty."  7:06PM Barkley in a Chelsea strip Credit: GETTY IMAGES Well, it's not an actual kit, but the team clothing. Look away Everton fans.  7:02PM Starting lineups Chelsea Team to face Arsenal: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Alonso; Hazard, Morata. #CHEARSpic.twitter.com/jbcvsjsgXG— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 10, 2018 Arsenal NO SANCHEZ! He is on the bench, and has played quite a lot of games... but... �� TEAM NEWS ��#CFCvAFCpic.twitter.com/V7uEqX9Hlh— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 10, 2018   6:37PM Arsene Wenger's seat Credit: PA Credit: PA This is where Arsene Wenger will have to watch today's game, which is in the press box. That's the same bit that lucky journalists get to do 'work' (it is actually work) while taking in the match, which might mean we get some quotes from the man himself. That is unless he's taken some friends with him to hide between. Like Huell from Breaking Bad. 6:22PM Good evening Hello everyone, welcome to our liveblog for the second first leg of this season's League Cup semi-finals. Man City left it late yesterday against Bristol City but may have taken things a little too easy - neither team can afford to approach tonight's match in the same manner. Chelsea just announced a new contract has been agreed with Andreas Christensen and the Dane may well start this evening. Antonio Conte is unlikely to name a weakened first XI for this one even after a hectic festive schedule and more big names will surely play too. Ross Barkley won't make it because he's still recovering from a hamstring injury, Danny Drinkwater might start ahead of Tiemoue Bakayoko. N'Golo Kante has never-ending energy and could play every game if he wanted, probably. Credit: PA Arsenal's injury list, as ever, is long and worrying. Koscielny, Monreal, Giroud, Kolasinac and Ramsey are all out while Mustafi, Xhaka and Ozil are serious doubts. And so Wenger must turn to the youth team and an allegedly naughty Alex Iwobi to try and win this one. Lacazette might finally get 90 minutes, Danny Welbeck may actually get a game and David Ospina will be risked deployed in goal. And yes, Alexis Sanchez will probably play too. Could this be his last game for Arsenal? Will he actually start? We'll find out when the teams are announced at 19:00.

Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0, League Cup semi-final first leg: VAR in the spotlight in London derby stalemate

The ‘VAR’ was used but this was more a ‘Very Average Response’ as Chelsea and Arsenal played out a goalless stalemate in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final. The Video Assistant Referee was called upon, to help adjudicate on two penalties claims, one for each side, and it was correct that neither was given even if the sight of the official Martin Atkinson pressing his finger to his ear added to the fans’ confused frustration. Instead it was an encounter which also left Arsenal supporters wondering if Alexis Sanchez will be at the club for the second leg, in a fortnight’s time, after he started on the substitutes’ bench and with a January move to Manchester City appearing increasingly likely. Arsene Wenger later denied that was the case while confirming that Jack Wilshere, his captain for the night, had suffered yet another injury to add to Arsenal’s worrying roll call of absentees. However the midfielder’s apparent ankle strain, received in blocking a shot, should not keep him out too long. It is hoped. Wenger watched the match from the press box – serving the second game of his three-fixture ban – and was, frankly, more entertaining that what happened out on the pitch, at times. It was a close-by study for reporters on the agonies that a manager goes through as he slammed his desk, kicked the seat in front of him and failed to stifle the odd shout over decisions or his players not being in position even if he was 25 yards away. Was this Alexis Sanchez's final game as an Arsenal player? Credit: CAMERASPORT By the end Arsenal commendably kept Chelsea at bay and there was also a sense that there is too much of a familiarity about these two teams now. This was their fourth meeting of the season, their fourth draw, but this was a far cry from the thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates last week. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte marched onto the pitch to speak to Atkinson at the final whistle – having drawn an imaginary ‘TV’ with his hands, presumably calling for another video referral – but later said he had only questioned an offside call. There were chances. But, crucially, both Chelsea and Arsenal are carrying strikers at present who are suffering from a lack of confidence which was evidenced in the opening two minutes when Alvaro Morata was put through by Eden Hazard only to snatch at the chance and prod the ball into the side-netting. Wenger joined journalists in the press box Credit: REUTERS Then, with Arsenal’s first, and best, opening, superbly fashioned by Wilshere, who was their most positive, influential player, as he lifted the ball through, Alexandre Lacazette had the chance to run at goal but slashed wildly at his shot from just inside the penalty area and struck it high over the cross-bar. He had to do better. Arsenal will, of course, come away the happier and rightly so. It is all to play for but they are at home and after going out of the FA Cup so pitifully last Sunday, away to Nottingham Forest, this was a performance that showed the resolve and determination they so sorely lacked. It was a different XI, also, although Alex Iwobi – accused of partying late too close to the Forest game – surprisingly kept his place while Sanchez, expected to start, was benched before he came on in the second-half but to little effect. Chelsea will feel they created enough opportunities to have won, maybe even to have put this tie to bed, but it is three draws in a row for them in all competitions and further evidence as to why they are looking for another striker during this window with Morata needing a rest, and back-up, and little faith in Michy Batshuayi who also came on as a late substitute and headed over the one opening that came his way. Neither could Conte turn to new signing, Ross Barkley, who was not deemed fit enough. Average touch positions (0 min) Chelsea struck the post in the first-half, from a Victor Moses shot, although goalkeeper David Ospina will have felt he had it covered, and did so again late on when Cesc Fabregas’s cross was deflected onto the outside of the goal-frame. The first penalty claim came when Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beat out Iwobi’s powerful shot, after a mistake by Antonio Rudiger who unwisely tried to pass the ball out of his own area to Danny Drinkwater only for it to be intercepted. The rebound fell to Ainsley Maitland-Niles and he attempted to burst past Moses, going down. There were chants of “VAR” from the Arsenal fans but the penalty appeal was rejected after Atkinson clearly – with his hand to his ear – consulted with Neil Swarbrick, the official back at the television headquarters. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal In the second-half Chelsea laid siege. Marcos Alonso flicked on a cross to Andreas Christensen who headed over, at full stretch, from a couple of yards out. He should have scored. The ball bounced off Morata at close-range from another corner before the striker ran at goal and struck a powerful 25-yard shot that Ospina turned away. Then Morata hit the side-netting again as the goalkeeper rushed out. It continued. Mustafi cut out Moses’ goal-bound shot for a corner, Christensen headed wastefully wide once more, Hazard elected to pass when he had to shoot and then Chelsea questioned whether they should have had a penalty as Fabregas went over under Danny Welbeck’s challenge and again Atkinson delayed, pressing his hand to his ear, but again it was not given. It remains on the edge. 10:20PM Antonio Conte "I think when there are this type of situation you have adapt about this and you have to check but at the same time if you have to check in extra time I think you have to consider this, for me the only disappointment is about extra time because I think in the second half the doctor went on the pitch twice and the referee stop to listen to the VAR, you have to give more minutes extra time. In Italy sometimes extra time is seven, eight minutes. "It's important every game to try to win, we tried with all of our strength, created chances to score. The last few times we are not so clinical and despite you shoot for 20 times we don't score and I think we have a reflect on this stat. "[Hazard] was a technical substitution. "Every game is different. For example if you compare this game with last game with Arsenal, Arsenal played this a very different way. They stayed very deep to exploit the counter-attack. The last game was more open and the both teams tried to win the game. They played very well defensively and it was another game today." 10:07PM Arsene Wenger confirms Coquelin is gone We already knew but Wenger has just confirmed that Coquelin is off to Valencia. He's also not sure whether Wilshere has come out of this game unscathed but that Ramsey should be back soon. 10:02PM Arsenal post-match reaction Callum Chambers "Very pleased, I think it's a good result and we were strong at the back. The boys dug in. "You're aware, you can see them talking in their ear so it's one of those, gotta get used to it.  "It was a good defensively display from the whole team and I think that's the best thing to come from tonight. "We've been playing Chelsea a lot recently so we know how they play, they know how we play. I thought tonight we were up for it, up for the fight." Danny Welbeck "I didn't know the VAR was actually for that incident, I knew I got the ball so. I could see him talking in his ear but I knew I got the ball clearly so I wasn't worried. "I know whatever tactics we use when I get on the pitch I give my all. " 9:59PM How the shapes changed during the match Average touch positions (0 min)   9:51PM FULL TIME That's a fair result. The teams cancelled each other out, adjusted tactically during the game and were able to create chances, although none that should have turned into goals. The second leg will be ace. 9:50PM 90 mins +5 Arsenal have done well here. Chelsea have had all the chances: Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  But Arsenal have been a match for everything thrown at them. Chelsea go looking for one last chance. Can they get it? 9:47PM 90 mins +2 Sanchez is all on his own surrounded by five Chelsea players and can't hold on to the ball. Arsenal are looking to just see out the 0-0 here. 9:45PM 90 mins Oooooh but now Martin Atkinson is talking to the VAR. The replay isn't conclusive at all! It looks like Welbeck gets some of the ball but also takes out Fabregas in the area. Is it clear and obvious? We wait. No! It's a corner. Anti-climax but at least it's the right decision. The referees all think it's no penalty, everyone can be happy. 9:43PM 88 mins PENALTY! Is it? The referee says no instantly! There will be no VAR decision again. Fabregas went down at high speed there. Chelsea have a corner. 9:43PM 87 mins I think Sanchez has given the ball away almost every single time he's tried to pass forward since coming on. He's busy though, and is looking to make things happen. Xhaka tries to shoot from 30 yards. No goals occur. Elneny is booked for bringing down Morata in the Arsenal half. Batshuayi comes on to replace the Spaniard. 9:40PM 85 mins Sanchez wins a free-kick from a Willian tackle and wants to take it himself. Hazard is taken off for Bakayoko, which might mean a switch back to the 3-1-4-2 from earlier when Chelsea were dominating. The free-kick goes short to Elneny and is rubbish. Chelsea break until Morata runs the ball out of play for a throw. 9:39PM 83 mins Sanchez tries to press but nobody else has quite as much energy and Chelsea easily bypass it. Fabregas can't reach a forward pass and Arsenal win possession. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   9:36PM 80 mins Kante is booked for bringing down Welbeck and that's where the earlier yellow card he didn't get comes into play. Because that should probably his second! Controversial scenes. Sanchez stands over the free-kick, curls it in and puts it ahead of everyone in the box. Mustafi can't get there and it's a goal kick. 9:35PM 79 mins Sanchez carries the ball at pace and tries to release Welbeck.. but is blocked. Chelsea turn that into an attack and Alonso shoots from 25 yards but is saved. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Marcos Alonso, 77 min) Sanchez is bouncing around shouting at teammates who have the audacity not to pass to him. Welbeck takes the chance to shoot and gets that friendly treatment too. 9:31PM 76 mins Willian has a pop from 25 yards but Ospina saves on the dive, making it look relatively easy, if not slightly over dramatic.  Sanchez is trying to get involved in the game but hasn't quite been able to do so yet. 9:29PM 73 mins That's the Iwobi we're more used to. Arsenal break quickly, Iwobi goes through the middle and then snatches at his shot, watching it dribble towards goal. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alex Iwobi, 72 min) He could be such an amazing player with just a bit of work. 9:26PM 70 mins Calum Chambers is down in pain now. His studs get caught in the grass a little bit as he tries to turn and he goes down visibly uncomfortable. He's not clawing at the air desperately as though it's a real bad one and he's on his feet now anyway. 9:24PM 68 mins Drinkwater off, Willian on. That might mean a change of shape to a 3-4-3 rather than 3-1-4-2. Kante will shift into a central midfield slot beside Fabregas. 9:23PM 67 mins Chelsea are increasing the pressure on Arsenal's backline. Welbeck gives away a free-kick wide right and shockingly, beyond any realm of imagination, it is Lacazette who comes off for Sanchez. Shiver my timbers. The free-kick goes all the way left, Alonso puts it back in and Moses has space! He controls and then thrashes a shot at goal but a block by Mustafi turns it over. This corner is curled in, Ospina is lost in the middle of nowhere - dreadful goalkeeping - and Christensen meets the cross. It's an open goal... but wide. Close for Chelsea!   9:21PM 65 mins Alexis Sanchez is getting ready to come on. I wonder who will be substituted? Let's see... it's nearly the 70th minute and Lacazette hasn't scored which means... it's probably... definitely going to be.... 9:19PM 63 mins Arsenal finally get forward and Maitland-Niles looks up from the left wing and chips a lovely ball over the defenders towards Welbeck in the middle. Chelsea get it away. Average touch positions (61 min) You can see Chelsea's shape very clearly here but Arsenal's is a little confusing.  9:16PM 61 mins Arsenal could do with changing something here. Chelsea are all over them. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  Arsenal getting most players behind the ball now, absorbing the Chelsea attacks before making lame attempts at counter-attacks. Chelsea passing around confidently, going for direct balls towards the wings and Morata. 9:14PM 58 mins Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 56 min) Great save from Ospina! And Morata goes close again just after Wilshere is replaced by Elneny. Mustafi wants a foul for jumping too early and bouncing off the striker, Ospina comes out and Morata tries to squeeze a tight shot underneath the goalie. Goal kick. 9:13PM 56 mins A corner is whipped into the near post, Alonso gets something to it but can only force the shot wide. Wilshere is treated by Arsenal's physio a.k.a Gale from Breaking Bad but is back on the pitch. The shot from Drinkwater came off his dangling leg and could well have jarred the ligaments, the kind of thing that happens in five a side to at least one person every week. It looks like he might have to come off after all. Credit: REUTERS  Hopefully that's just a precaution. 9:10PM 55 mins Arsenal are trying to play out from the back but just cannot do it! The press is really intense and high and defenders are being forced into the six yard box to make a pass. Whenever that happens the high pass needed gives possession back to Chelsea. Chelsea have a corner after Drinkwater batters a ball from close range off Wilshere's ankle. Oh dear. He's down having treatment. 9:08PM 52 mins Booking for Xhaka. I had that sentence ready to paste.  He slides in and takes out Rudiger after another poor bit of play handed Chelsea possession deep in Arsenal's half. Alonso is lining up a 25 yard shot here. 9:07PM 51 mins Chelsea are more on the front foot in this half than they were the first. They're taking the game to Arsenal and look dangerous. They're also pressing higher up the pitch, getting Moses and Alonso further forward.  Kante and Drinkwater keep things ticking over in midfield while Chelsea attack down the flanks. 9:03PM 48 mins Kante is on the hunt for goals here. He's just had another go from inside the box with a difficult narrow angle volley but hits his own player. AND CHRISTENSEN AT THE BACK POST! Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Andreas Christensen, 47 min) So close! He might actually have done better there. Mustafi is beaten as the ball bounces off a head and falls to the Dane but he puts a bit too much on the header and it goes over. 9:01PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! 9:00PM Ross Barkley on the pitch He's waving at the fans, taking selfies, applauding - all of this while carrying a hamstring injury. What a guy. 8:58PM No VAR yet VAR has been utilised a few times so far then but nothing incredible has come of it. No penalties, yellow cards or reversed decisions. That said, at least Martin Atkinson has been sure of all the choices he has made in this game. He'll sleep well tonight.  8:47PM HALF TIME That was entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it. No goals though. I have particularly been interested in Arsenal's strange 3-6-1 formation. Average touch positions (half time) 8:46PM 45 mins Free-kick to Chelsea wide right. It's crossed in and Welbeck clears for a corner. Fabregas gets it short, Hazard crosses backwards to Azpilicueta... who goes for the ball over the top again! Fabregas is in behind the defence and one on one! He heads at goal... but straight at Ospina! Saved!  Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Cesc Fàbregas, 45 min)   8:43PM 43 mins Hazard is quick onto a smart flick from Morata but Ospina watches it and comes off his line to smother the through ball. Maitland-Niles has taken his turn to trick his way past Moses but runs out of room and nearly goes over the advertising boards. 8:39PM 40 mins Good save by Courtois! The shot is parried from Iwobi as the ball drops to him and then Moses looks to have tripped Maitland-Niles in the area! Moses scarpers away... Martin Atkinson gets advice from the VAR... will it be? WILL IT BE?  No. 8:37PM 38 mins Mustafi is way too eager to stop Morata kicking the ball and brings him down for a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Fabregas takes it short for Kante! Surprise! He gets it all wrong and slices with power over the bar. Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (N'Golo Kanté, 37 min)   8:33PM 35 mins Iwobi has been Arsenal's best player tonight. He's working really hard, making clever driving runs through the middle when the chance is on and is covering his defensive positions too. This is instead of the usual sideways passing, refusing to shoot Iwobi that we're used to. Chelsea win a corner after a Maitland-Niles error but Drinkwater hoofs a shot way over the bar. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:31PM 32 mins Credit: AFP Arsenal have another corner. This time Xhaka gets a better deliver and Mustafi puts his head on it. Wide.  8:30PM 31 mins VAR ALERT! Azpilicueta has been shoved to the ground by Chambers while they grapple for a corner. The referee has looked at the evidence, and then done exactly what he would have done if he hadn't seen it. Nothing. Xhaka is getting pelters from the Chelsea fans by his corner and hurriedly takes it, failing to clear the near post. The supporters love it.  8:28PM 28 mins Drinkwater is neat, turns back and plays Kante in, who drives forward and nobody can get close. The ball ends up with Alonso, who teases Bellerin before hitting a low diagonal into the box that Morata very nearly turns at goal. Ospina would have had to do something special to save if Morata had been able to get a touch. Maitland-Niles has been done by Moses again... Chelsea will start probing that weakness from here on. They've figured it out and Moses is enjoying himself. 8:25PM 26 mins Great effort by Moses who cuts inside from the left, goes past Maitland-Niles without even really trying and then thumps a low shot at the near post. Ospina gets down, spills... and recovers. No Chelsea player close enough to stab in the rebound.  Welbeck tries to break past the defence but is easily stopped. Chelsea bring the ball up to halfway and then hit a long pass over the top. 8:22PM 23 mins Credit: AFP  No flag! Lacazette is in! A well timed run and Wilshere finds him, Courtois narrows the angle... and Lacazette blasts it wildly over the bar.  Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   8:20PM 21 mins Xhaka shoots low from the free-kick, about 25 yards out, and doesn't score. Nothing happens actually. Chelsea have the ball. 8:19PM 20 mins A rare bad tackle by Kante should probably result in a yellow card for the Frenchman as Iwobi goes on an even rarer driving run through the middle of the defence. Somehow, and I have no idea why, the referee doesn't give a yellow. That's about as textbook a yellow card example as you'll see - from behind, lunging, denying an attacking opportunity, late, done on purpose... how is it not a yellow? It's a good job they have VAR to review... oh. Oh I see. They haven't bothered. Or - and this is possible - I don't know enough about refereeing to accurately call that as a booking, even after several replays. 8:17PM 18 mins Xhaka applauds his teammates as they put each other under pressure in order to keep possession in their own box before turning defence into attack. Lacazette tries to go round the outside of a defender but it doesn't quite work and Chelsea have a goal kick. 8:15PM 17 mins Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:15PM 16 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES That was the tunnel to pitch walk earlier. Very atmospheric. Like a boxing match, or actually something more similar to WWE. The long ball is on for Chelsea and they keep looking for it. Morata's first touch is absolutely brilliant which turns punted kicks into excellent passes.  8:13PM 13 mins Chelsea are patient with their passing, Arsenal drop off and Azpilicueta goes for one of his now-signature long diagonal passes towards Morata. Instead it's Alonso who attacks and a defender has to get the ball away to prevent the chance. Arsenal win a goal kick. Chelsea are looking for this ball over the top of Arsenal's back three for a runner in the space behind the wing-backs. Hazard nearly gets in at goal. 8:10PM 11 mins Xhaka takes a low corner and it comes all the way to Bellerin on the left (the corner was from the right). Alonso takes care of things, Kante cleans up... or does he? Arsenal regain possession high up the pitch but have to pass backwards. There's a nice tempo to the passing  and Arsenal have come out of their own half. 8:08PM 8 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea aren't quite on their game yet.  This graphic pretty perfectly summarises the opening minutes: Average touch positions (6 min)   8:06PM 6 mins Arsenal passing patiently around their own half but seem rather scared of going past halfway, since that is when Chelsea start trying to tackle them. Ospina is nearly put in trouble by a Mustafi back pass. Nearly. 8:04PM 4 mins Arsene Wenger is watching. Wenger and Jens Lehmann take their seats pic.twitter.com/1UVpRe6Uji— Matt McGeehan (@mattmcgeehan) January 10, 2018  I bet he's finding this in no way annoying. Wenger joins media to watch the game pic.twitter.com/FfyB8eGGUo— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 10, 2018   8:03PM 3 mins Arsenal are definitely a three man defence, Mustafi the central centre-back. Chelsea are looking to press at halfway, drawing Arsenal out from the back to create some space. Arsenal are employing a higher press but aren't doing it very well early on. Iwobi sort of tries, Lacazette drops deep, Welbeck tries a bit... Chelsea get forward and Morata hits the side netting. Already!  Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 2 min)   8:00PM KICK-OFF Here we go, here we go, here we go (repeat x infinity). 7:56PM David Luiz is there Credit: REUTERS Could we see the Brazilian playing tonight? Probably not. And if you read some... let's not call it news, because it isn't, but very tenuous links on pages that are usually proven entirely factually inaccurate have linked Luiz with a move away from west London this transfer window. Barcelona and Arsenal are the touted destinations. Not for me, Clive. 7:50PM Antonio Conte's thoughts "For sure it is a trophy and for this reason we want to reach the final but Arsenal will be the same." 7:44PM There he is Credit: REUTERS The other big talking point this evening, other than the game of football, is VAR. Quite why clubs are required to invest in extremely expensive equipment to review decisions instead of just watching a live feed already available in the grounds doesn't make an awful lot of sense to me. They have monitors in the press box - just give referees one of them! 7:34PM Francis Coquelin Au revoir Francis! The midfielder has signed for Valencia for a £12million transfer fee.  7:15PM Wenger looking forward to VAR "Well we look forward to this because we lost at the weekend. Being out of the FA Cup that we won many times and being in the semi final of the LC it becomes an important game. "[Ozil] has a reoccurrance of his knee problem, he saw a specialist today, we hope it is short term. He came in and couldn't practise." WHY IS SANCHEZ ON THE BENCH, EH? "You cannot explain every decision but that is the decision of the game. He is ready to play a part in this game." Are you excited about VAR helping penalty decisions? "Yes of course because I think sometimes at real pace its hard to detect what is a penalty."  7:06PM Barkley in a Chelsea strip Credit: GETTY IMAGES Well, it's not an actual kit, but the team clothing. Look away Everton fans.  7:02PM Starting lineups Chelsea Team to face Arsenal: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Alonso; Hazard, Morata. #CHEARSpic.twitter.com/jbcvsjsgXG— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 10, 2018 Arsenal NO SANCHEZ! He is on the bench, and has played quite a lot of games... but... �� TEAM NEWS ��#CFCvAFCpic.twitter.com/V7uEqX9Hlh— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 10, 2018   6:37PM Arsene Wenger's seat Credit: PA Credit: PA This is where Arsene Wenger will have to watch today's game, which is in the press box. That's the same bit that lucky journalists get to do 'work' (it is actually work) while taking in the match, which might mean we get some quotes from the man himself. That is unless he's taken some friends with him to hide between. Like Huell from Breaking Bad. 6:22PM Good evening Hello everyone, welcome to our liveblog for the second first leg of this season's League Cup semi-finals. Man City left it late yesterday against Bristol City but may have taken things a little too easy - neither team can afford to approach tonight's match in the same manner. Chelsea just announced a new contract has been agreed with Andreas Christensen and the Dane may well start this evening. Antonio Conte is unlikely to name a weakened first XI for this one even after a hectic festive schedule and more big names will surely play too. Ross Barkley won't make it because he's still recovering from a hamstring injury, Danny Drinkwater might start ahead of Tiemoue Bakayoko. N'Golo Kante has never-ending energy and could play every game if he wanted, probably. Credit: PA Arsenal's injury list, as ever, is long and worrying. Koscielny, Monreal, Giroud, Kolasinac and Ramsey are all out while Mustafi, Xhaka and Ozil are serious doubts. And so Wenger must turn to the youth team and an allegedly naughty Alex Iwobi to try and win this one. Lacazette might finally get 90 minutes, Danny Welbeck may actually get a game and David Ospina will be risked deployed in goal. And yes, Alexis Sanchez will probably play too. Could this be his last game for Arsenal? Will he actually start? We'll find out when the teams are announced at 19:00.

Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0, League Cup semi-final first leg: VAR in the spotlight in London derby stalemate

The ‘VAR’ was used but this was more a ‘Very Average Response’ as Chelsea and Arsenal played out a goalless stalemate in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final. The Video Assistant Referee was called upon, to help adjudicate on two penalties claims, one for each side, and it was correct that neither was given even if the sight of the official Martin Atkinson pressing his finger to his ear added to the fans’ confused frustration. Instead it was an encounter which also left Arsenal supporters wondering if Alexis Sanchez will be at the club for the second leg, in a fortnight’s time, after he started on the substitutes’ bench and with a January move to Manchester City appearing increasingly likely. Arsene Wenger later denied that was the case while confirming that Jack Wilshere, his captain for the night, had suffered yet another injury to add to Arsenal’s worrying roll call of absentees. However the midfielder’s apparent ankle strain, received in blocking a shot, should not keep him out too long. It is hoped. Wenger watched the match from the press box – serving the second game of his three-fixture ban – and was, frankly, more entertaining that what happened out on the pitch, at times. It was a close-by study for reporters on the agonies that a manager goes through as he slammed his desk, kicked the seat in front of him and failed to stifle the odd shout over decisions or his players not being in position even if he was 25 yards away. Was this Alexis Sanchez's final game as an Arsenal player? Credit: CAMERASPORT By the end Arsenal commendably kept Chelsea at bay and there was also a sense that there is too much of a familiarity about these two teams now. This was their fourth meeting of the season, their fourth draw, but this was a far cry from the thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates last week. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte marched onto the pitch to speak to Atkinson at the final whistle – having drawn an imaginary ‘TV’ with his hands, presumably calling for another video referral – but later said he had only questioned an offside call. There were chances. But, crucially, both Chelsea and Arsenal are carrying strikers at present who are suffering from a lack of confidence which was evidenced in the opening two minutes when Alvaro Morata was put through by Eden Hazard only to snatch at the chance and prod the ball into the side-netting. Wenger joined journalists in the press box Credit: REUTERS Then, with Arsenal’s first, and best, opening, superbly fashioned by Wilshere, who was their most positive, influential player, as he lifted the ball through, Alexandre Lacazette had the chance to run at goal but slashed wildly at his shot from just inside the penalty area and struck it high over the cross-bar. He had to do better. Arsenal will, of course, come away the happier and rightly so. It is all to play for but they are at home and after going out of the FA Cup so pitifully last Sunday, away to Nottingham Forest, this was a performance that showed the resolve and determination they so sorely lacked. It was a different XI, also, although Alex Iwobi – accused of partying late too close to the Forest game – surprisingly kept his place while Sanchez, expected to start, was benched before he came on in the second-half but to little effect. Chelsea will feel they created enough opportunities to have won, maybe even to have put this tie to bed, but it is three draws in a row for them in all competitions and further evidence as to why they are looking for another striker during this window with Morata needing a rest, and back-up, and little faith in Michy Batshuayi who also came on as a late substitute and headed over the one opening that came his way. Neither could Conte turn to new signing, Ross Barkley, who was not deemed fit enough. Average touch positions (0 min) Chelsea struck the post in the first-half, from a Victor Moses shot, although goalkeeper David Ospina will have felt he had it covered, and did so again late on when Cesc Fabregas’s cross was deflected onto the outside of the goal-frame. The first penalty claim came when Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beat out Iwobi’s powerful shot, after a mistake by Antonio Rudiger who unwisely tried to pass the ball out of his own area to Danny Drinkwater only for it to be intercepted. The rebound fell to Ainsley Maitland-Niles and he attempted to burst past Moses, going down. There were chants of “VAR” from the Arsenal fans but the penalty appeal was rejected after Atkinson clearly – with his hand to his ear – consulted with Neil Swarbrick, the official back at the television headquarters. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal In the second-half Chelsea laid siege. Marcos Alonso flicked on a cross to Andreas Christensen who headed over, at full stretch, from a couple of yards out. He should have scored. The ball bounced off Morata at close-range from another corner before the striker ran at goal and struck a powerful 25-yard shot that Ospina turned away. Then Morata hit the side-netting again as the goalkeeper rushed out. It continued. Mustafi cut out Moses’ goal-bound shot for a corner, Christensen headed wastefully wide once more, Hazard elected to pass when he had to shoot and then Chelsea questioned whether they should have had a penalty as Fabregas went over under Danny Welbeck’s challenge and again Atkinson delayed, pressing his hand to his ear, but again it was not given. It remains on the edge. 10:20PM Antonio Conte "I think when there are this type of situation you have adapt about this and you have to check but at the same time if you have to check in extra time I think you have to consider this, for me the only disappointment is about extra time because I think in the second half the doctor went on the pitch twice and the referee stop to listen to the VAR, you have to give more minutes extra time. In Italy sometimes extra time is seven, eight minutes. "It's important every game to try to win, we tried with all of our strength, created chances to score. The last few times we are not so clinical and despite you shoot for 20 times we don't score and I think we have a reflect on this stat. "[Hazard] was a technical substitution. "Every game is different. For example if you compare this game with last game with Arsenal, Arsenal played this a very different way. They stayed very deep to exploit the counter-attack. The last game was more open and the both teams tried to win the game. They played very well defensively and it was another game today." 10:07PM Arsene Wenger confirms Coquelin is gone We already knew but Wenger has just confirmed that Coquelin is off to Valencia. He's also not sure whether Wilshere has come out of this game unscathed but that Ramsey should be back soon. 10:02PM Arsenal post-match reaction Callum Chambers "Very pleased, I think it's a good result and we were strong at the back. The boys dug in. "You're aware, you can see them talking in their ear so it's one of those, gotta get used to it.  "It was a good defensively display from the whole team and I think that's the best thing to come from tonight. "We've been playing Chelsea a lot recently so we know how they play, they know how we play. I thought tonight we were up for it, up for the fight." Danny Welbeck "I didn't know the VAR was actually for that incident, I knew I got the ball so. I could see him talking in his ear but I knew I got the ball clearly so I wasn't worried. "I know whatever tactics we use when I get on the pitch I give my all. " 9:59PM How the shapes changed during the match Average touch positions (0 min)   9:51PM FULL TIME That's a fair result. The teams cancelled each other out, adjusted tactically during the game and were able to create chances, although none that should have turned into goals. The second leg will be ace. 9:50PM 90 mins +5 Arsenal have done well here. Chelsea have had all the chances: Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  But Arsenal have been a match for everything thrown at them. Chelsea go looking for one last chance. Can they get it? 9:47PM 90 mins +2 Sanchez is all on his own surrounded by five Chelsea players and can't hold on to the ball. Arsenal are looking to just see out the 0-0 here. 9:45PM 90 mins Oooooh but now Martin Atkinson is talking to the VAR. The replay isn't conclusive at all! It looks like Welbeck gets some of the ball but also takes out Fabregas in the area. Is it clear and obvious? We wait. No! It's a corner. Anti-climax but at least it's the right decision. The referees all think it's no penalty, everyone can be happy. 9:43PM 88 mins PENALTY! Is it? The referee says no instantly! There will be no VAR decision again. Fabregas went down at high speed there. Chelsea have a corner. 9:43PM 87 mins I think Sanchez has given the ball away almost every single time he's tried to pass forward since coming on. He's busy though, and is looking to make things happen. Xhaka tries to shoot from 30 yards. No goals occur. Elneny is booked for bringing down Morata in the Arsenal half. Batshuayi comes on to replace the Spaniard. 9:40PM 85 mins Sanchez wins a free-kick from a Willian tackle and wants to take it himself. Hazard is taken off for Bakayoko, which might mean a switch back to the 3-1-4-2 from earlier when Chelsea were dominating. The free-kick goes short to Elneny and is rubbish. Chelsea break until Morata runs the ball out of play for a throw. 9:39PM 83 mins Sanchez tries to press but nobody else has quite as much energy and Chelsea easily bypass it. Fabregas can't reach a forward pass and Arsenal win possession. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   9:36PM 80 mins Kante is booked for bringing down Welbeck and that's where the earlier yellow card he didn't get comes into play. Because that should probably his second! Controversial scenes. Sanchez stands over the free-kick, curls it in and puts it ahead of everyone in the box. Mustafi can't get there and it's a goal kick. 9:35PM 79 mins Sanchez carries the ball at pace and tries to release Welbeck.. but is blocked. Chelsea turn that into an attack and Alonso shoots from 25 yards but is saved. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Marcos Alonso, 77 min) Sanchez is bouncing around shouting at teammates who have the audacity not to pass to him. Welbeck takes the chance to shoot and gets that friendly treatment too. 9:31PM 76 mins Willian has a pop from 25 yards but Ospina saves on the dive, making it look relatively easy, if not slightly over dramatic.  Sanchez is trying to get involved in the game but hasn't quite been able to do so yet. 9:29PM 73 mins That's the Iwobi we're more used to. Arsenal break quickly, Iwobi goes through the middle and then snatches at his shot, watching it dribble towards goal. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alex Iwobi, 72 min) He could be such an amazing player with just a bit of work. 9:26PM 70 mins Calum Chambers is down in pain now. His studs get caught in the grass a little bit as he tries to turn and he goes down visibly uncomfortable. He's not clawing at the air desperately as though it's a real bad one and he's on his feet now anyway. 9:24PM 68 mins Drinkwater off, Willian on. That might mean a change of shape to a 3-4-3 rather than 3-1-4-2. Kante will shift into a central midfield slot beside Fabregas. 9:23PM 67 mins Chelsea are increasing the pressure on Arsenal's backline. Welbeck gives away a free-kick wide right and shockingly, beyond any realm of imagination, it is Lacazette who comes off for Sanchez. Shiver my timbers. The free-kick goes all the way left, Alonso puts it back in and Moses has space! He controls and then thrashes a shot at goal but a block by Mustafi turns it over. This corner is curled in, Ospina is lost in the middle of nowhere - dreadful goalkeeping - and Christensen meets the cross. It's an open goal... but wide. Close for Chelsea!   9:21PM 65 mins Alexis Sanchez is getting ready to come on. I wonder who will be substituted? Let's see... it's nearly the 70th minute and Lacazette hasn't scored which means... it's probably... definitely going to be.... 9:19PM 63 mins Arsenal finally get forward and Maitland-Niles looks up from the left wing and chips a lovely ball over the defenders towards Welbeck in the middle. Chelsea get it away. Average touch positions (61 min) You can see Chelsea's shape very clearly here but Arsenal's is a little confusing.  9:16PM 61 mins Arsenal could do with changing something here. Chelsea are all over them. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  Arsenal getting most players behind the ball now, absorbing the Chelsea attacks before making lame attempts at counter-attacks. Chelsea passing around confidently, going for direct balls towards the wings and Morata. 9:14PM 58 mins Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 56 min) Great save from Ospina! And Morata goes close again just after Wilshere is replaced by Elneny. Mustafi wants a foul for jumping too early and bouncing off the striker, Ospina comes out and Morata tries to squeeze a tight shot underneath the goalie. Goal kick. 9:13PM 56 mins A corner is whipped into the near post, Alonso gets something to it but can only force the shot wide. Wilshere is treated by Arsenal's physio a.k.a Gale from Breaking Bad but is back on the pitch. The shot from Drinkwater came off his dangling leg and could well have jarred the ligaments, the kind of thing that happens in five a side to at least one person every week. It looks like he might have to come off after all. Credit: REUTERS  Hopefully that's just a precaution. 9:10PM 55 mins Arsenal are trying to play out from the back but just cannot do it! The press is really intense and high and defenders are being forced into the six yard box to make a pass. Whenever that happens the high pass needed gives possession back to Chelsea. Chelsea have a corner after Drinkwater batters a ball from close range off Wilshere's ankle. Oh dear. He's down having treatment. 9:08PM 52 mins Booking for Xhaka. I had that sentence ready to paste.  He slides in and takes out Rudiger after another poor bit of play handed Chelsea possession deep in Arsenal's half. Alonso is lining up a 25 yard shot here. 9:07PM 51 mins Chelsea are more on the front foot in this half than they were the first. They're taking the game to Arsenal and look dangerous. They're also pressing higher up the pitch, getting Moses and Alonso further forward.  Kante and Drinkwater keep things ticking over in midfield while Chelsea attack down the flanks. 9:03PM 48 mins Kante is on the hunt for goals here. He's just had another go from inside the box with a difficult narrow angle volley but hits his own player. AND CHRISTENSEN AT THE BACK POST! Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Andreas Christensen, 47 min) So close! He might actually have done better there. Mustafi is beaten as the ball bounces off a head and falls to the Dane but he puts a bit too much on the header and it goes over. 9:01PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! 9:00PM Ross Barkley on the pitch He's waving at the fans, taking selfies, applauding - all of this while carrying a hamstring injury. What a guy. 8:58PM No VAR yet VAR has been utilised a few times so far then but nothing incredible has come of it. No penalties, yellow cards or reversed decisions. That said, at least Martin Atkinson has been sure of all the choices he has made in this game. He'll sleep well tonight.  8:47PM HALF TIME That was entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it. No goals though. I have particularly been interested in Arsenal's strange 3-6-1 formation. Average touch positions (half time) 8:46PM 45 mins Free-kick to Chelsea wide right. It's crossed in and Welbeck clears for a corner. Fabregas gets it short, Hazard crosses backwards to Azpilicueta... who goes for the ball over the top again! Fabregas is in behind the defence and one on one! He heads at goal... but straight at Ospina! Saved!  Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Cesc Fàbregas, 45 min)   8:43PM 43 mins Hazard is quick onto a smart flick from Morata but Ospina watches it and comes off his line to smother the through ball. Maitland-Niles has taken his turn to trick his way past Moses but runs out of room and nearly goes over the advertising boards. 8:39PM 40 mins Good save by Courtois! The shot is parried from Iwobi as the ball drops to him and then Moses looks to have tripped Maitland-Niles in the area! Moses scarpers away... Martin Atkinson gets advice from the VAR... will it be? WILL IT BE?  No. 8:37PM 38 mins Mustafi is way too eager to stop Morata kicking the ball and brings him down for a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Fabregas takes it short for Kante! Surprise! He gets it all wrong and slices with power over the bar. Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (N'Golo Kanté, 37 min)   8:33PM 35 mins Iwobi has been Arsenal's best player tonight. He's working really hard, making clever driving runs through the middle when the chance is on and is covering his defensive positions too. This is instead of the usual sideways passing, refusing to shoot Iwobi that we're used to. Chelsea win a corner after a Maitland-Niles error but Drinkwater hoofs a shot way over the bar. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:31PM 32 mins Credit: AFP Arsenal have another corner. This time Xhaka gets a better deliver and Mustafi puts his head on it. Wide.  8:30PM 31 mins VAR ALERT! Azpilicueta has been shoved to the ground by Chambers while they grapple for a corner. The referee has looked at the evidence, and then done exactly what he would have done if he hadn't seen it. Nothing. Xhaka is getting pelters from the Chelsea fans by his corner and hurriedly takes it, failing to clear the near post. The supporters love it.  8:28PM 28 mins Drinkwater is neat, turns back and plays Kante in, who drives forward and nobody can get close. The ball ends up with Alonso, who teases Bellerin before hitting a low diagonal into the box that Morata very nearly turns at goal. Ospina would have had to do something special to save if Morata had been able to get a touch. Maitland-Niles has been done by Moses again... Chelsea will start probing that weakness from here on. They've figured it out and Moses is enjoying himself. 8:25PM 26 mins Great effort by Moses who cuts inside from the left, goes past Maitland-Niles without even really trying and then thumps a low shot at the near post. Ospina gets down, spills... and recovers. No Chelsea player close enough to stab in the rebound.  Welbeck tries to break past the defence but is easily stopped. Chelsea bring the ball up to halfway and then hit a long pass over the top. 8:22PM 23 mins Credit: AFP  No flag! Lacazette is in! A well timed run and Wilshere finds him, Courtois narrows the angle... and Lacazette blasts it wildly over the bar.  Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   8:20PM 21 mins Xhaka shoots low from the free-kick, about 25 yards out, and doesn't score. Nothing happens actually. Chelsea have the ball. 8:19PM 20 mins A rare bad tackle by Kante should probably result in a yellow card for the Frenchman as Iwobi goes on an even rarer driving run through the middle of the defence. Somehow, and I have no idea why, the referee doesn't give a yellow. That's about as textbook a yellow card example as you'll see - from behind, lunging, denying an attacking opportunity, late, done on purpose... how is it not a yellow? It's a good job they have VAR to review... oh. Oh I see. They haven't bothered. Or - and this is possible - I don't know enough about refereeing to accurately call that as a booking, even after several replays. 8:17PM 18 mins Xhaka applauds his teammates as they put each other under pressure in order to keep possession in their own box before turning defence into attack. Lacazette tries to go round the outside of a defender but it doesn't quite work and Chelsea have a goal kick. 8:15PM 17 mins Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:15PM 16 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES That was the tunnel to pitch walk earlier. Very atmospheric. Like a boxing match, or actually something more similar to WWE. The long ball is on for Chelsea and they keep looking for it. Morata's first touch is absolutely brilliant which turns punted kicks into excellent passes.  8:13PM 13 mins Chelsea are patient with their passing, Arsenal drop off and Azpilicueta goes for one of his now-signature long diagonal passes towards Morata. Instead it's Alonso who attacks and a defender has to get the ball away to prevent the chance. Arsenal win a goal kick. Chelsea are looking for this ball over the top of Arsenal's back three for a runner in the space behind the wing-backs. Hazard nearly gets in at goal. 8:10PM 11 mins Xhaka takes a low corner and it comes all the way to Bellerin on the left (the corner was from the right). Alonso takes care of things, Kante cleans up... or does he? Arsenal regain possession high up the pitch but have to pass backwards. There's a nice tempo to the passing  and Arsenal have come out of their own half. 8:08PM 8 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea aren't quite on their game yet.  This graphic pretty perfectly summarises the opening minutes: Average touch positions (6 min)   8:06PM 6 mins Arsenal passing patiently around their own half but seem rather scared of going past halfway, since that is when Chelsea start trying to tackle them. Ospina is nearly put in trouble by a Mustafi back pass. Nearly. 8:04PM 4 mins Arsene Wenger is watching. Wenger and Jens Lehmann take their seats pic.twitter.com/1UVpRe6Uji— Matt McGeehan (@mattmcgeehan) January 10, 2018  I bet he's finding this in no way annoying. Wenger joins media to watch the game pic.twitter.com/FfyB8eGGUo— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 10, 2018   8:03PM 3 mins Arsenal are definitely a three man defence, Mustafi the central centre-back. Chelsea are looking to press at halfway, drawing Arsenal out from the back to create some space. Arsenal are employing a higher press but aren't doing it very well early on. Iwobi sort of tries, Lacazette drops deep, Welbeck tries a bit... Chelsea get forward and Morata hits the side netting. Already!  Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 2 min)   8:00PM KICK-OFF Here we go, here we go, here we go (repeat x infinity). 7:56PM David Luiz is there Credit: REUTERS Could we see the Brazilian playing tonight? Probably not. And if you read some... let's not call it news, because it isn't, but very tenuous links on pages that are usually proven entirely factually inaccurate have linked Luiz with a move away from west London this transfer window. Barcelona and Arsenal are the touted destinations. Not for me, Clive. 7:50PM Antonio Conte's thoughts "For sure it is a trophy and for this reason we want to reach the final but Arsenal will be the same." 7:44PM There he is Credit: REUTERS The other big talking point this evening, other than the game of football, is VAR. Quite why clubs are required to invest in extremely expensive equipment to review decisions instead of just watching a live feed already available in the grounds doesn't make an awful lot of sense to me. They have monitors in the press box - just give referees one of them! 7:34PM Francis Coquelin Au revoir Francis! The midfielder has signed for Valencia for a £12million transfer fee.  7:15PM Wenger looking forward to VAR "Well we look forward to this because we lost at the weekend. Being out of the FA Cup that we won many times and being in the semi final of the LC it becomes an important game. "[Ozil] has a reoccurrance of his knee problem, he saw a specialist today, we hope it is short term. He came in and couldn't practise." WHY IS SANCHEZ ON THE BENCH, EH? "You cannot explain every decision but that is the decision of the game. He is ready to play a part in this game." Are you excited about VAR helping penalty decisions? "Yes of course because I think sometimes at real pace its hard to detect what is a penalty."  7:06PM Barkley in a Chelsea strip Credit: GETTY IMAGES Well, it's not an actual kit, but the team clothing. Look away Everton fans.  7:02PM Starting lineups Chelsea Team to face Arsenal: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Alonso; Hazard, Morata. #CHEARSpic.twitter.com/jbcvsjsgXG— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 10, 2018 Arsenal NO SANCHEZ! He is on the bench, and has played quite a lot of games... but... �� TEAM NEWS ��#CFCvAFCpic.twitter.com/V7uEqX9Hlh— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 10, 2018   6:37PM Arsene Wenger's seat Credit: PA Credit: PA This is where Arsene Wenger will have to watch today's game, which is in the press box. That's the same bit that lucky journalists get to do 'work' (it is actually work) while taking in the match, which might mean we get some quotes from the man himself. That is unless he's taken some friends with him to hide between. Like Huell from Breaking Bad. 6:22PM Good evening Hello everyone, welcome to our liveblog for the second first leg of this season's League Cup semi-finals. Man City left it late yesterday against Bristol City but may have taken things a little too easy - neither team can afford to approach tonight's match in the same manner. Chelsea just announced a new contract has been agreed with Andreas Christensen and the Dane may well start this evening. Antonio Conte is unlikely to name a weakened first XI for this one even after a hectic festive schedule and more big names will surely play too. Ross Barkley won't make it because he's still recovering from a hamstring injury, Danny Drinkwater might start ahead of Tiemoue Bakayoko. N'Golo Kante has never-ending energy and could play every game if he wanted, probably. Credit: PA Arsenal's injury list, as ever, is long and worrying. Koscielny, Monreal, Giroud, Kolasinac and Ramsey are all out while Mustafi, Xhaka and Ozil are serious doubts. And so Wenger must turn to the youth team and an allegedly naughty Alex Iwobi to try and win this one. Lacazette might finally get 90 minutes, Danny Welbeck may actually get a game and David Ospina will be risked deployed in goal. And yes, Alexis Sanchez will probably play too. Could this be his last game for Arsenal? Will he actually start? We'll find out when the teams are announced at 19:00.

Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0, League Cup semi-final first leg: VAR in the spotlight in London derby stalemate

The ‘VAR’ was used but this was more a ‘Very Average Response’ as Chelsea and Arsenal played out a goalless stalemate in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final. The Video Assistant Referee was called upon, to help adjudicate on two penalties claims, one for each side, and it was correct that neither was given even if the sight of the official Martin Atkinson pressing his finger to his ear added to the fans’ confused frustration. Instead it was an encounter which also left Arsenal supporters wondering if Alexis Sanchez will be at the club for the second leg, in a fortnight’s time, after he started on the substitutes’ bench and with a January move to Manchester City appearing increasingly likely. Arsene Wenger later denied that was the case while confirming that Jack Wilshere, his captain for the night, had suffered yet another injury to add to Arsenal’s worrying roll call of absentees. However the midfielder’s apparent ankle strain, received in blocking a shot, should not keep him out too long. It is hoped. Wenger watched the match from the press box – serving the second game of his three-fixture ban – and was, frankly, more entertaining that what happened out on the pitch, at times. It was a close-by study for reporters on the agonies that a manager goes through as he slammed his desk, kicked the seat in front of him and failed to stifle the odd shout over decisions or his players not being in position even if he was 25 yards away. Was this Alexis Sanchez's final game as an Arsenal player? Credit: CAMERASPORT By the end Arsenal commendably kept Chelsea at bay and there was also a sense that there is too much of a familiarity about these two teams now. This was their fourth meeting of the season, their fourth draw, but this was a far cry from the thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates last week. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte marched onto the pitch to speak to Atkinson at the final whistle – having drawn an imaginary ‘TV’ with his hands, presumably calling for another video referral – but later said he had only questioned an offside call. There were chances. But, crucially, both Chelsea and Arsenal are carrying strikers at present who are suffering from a lack of confidence which was evidenced in the opening two minutes when Alvaro Morata was put through by Eden Hazard only to snatch at the chance and prod the ball into the side-netting. Wenger joined journalists in the press box Credit: REUTERS Then, with Arsenal’s first, and best, opening, superbly fashioned by Wilshere, who was their most positive, influential player, as he lifted the ball through, Alexandre Lacazette had the chance to run at goal but slashed wildly at his shot from just inside the penalty area and struck it high over the cross-bar. He had to do better. Arsenal will, of course, come away the happier and rightly so. It is all to play for but they are at home and after going out of the FA Cup so pitifully last Sunday, away to Nottingham Forest, this was a performance that showed the resolve and determination they so sorely lacked. It was a different XI, also, although Alex Iwobi – accused of partying late too close to the Forest game – surprisingly kept his place while Sanchez, expected to start, was benched before he came on in the second-half but to little effect. Chelsea will feel they created enough opportunities to have won, maybe even to have put this tie to bed, but it is three draws in a row for them in all competitions and further evidence as to why they are looking for another striker during this window with Morata needing a rest, and back-up, and little faith in Michy Batshuayi who also came on as a late substitute and headed over the one opening that came his way. Neither could Conte turn to new signing, Ross Barkley, who was not deemed fit enough. Average touch positions (0 min) Chelsea struck the post in the first-half, from a Victor Moses shot, although goalkeeper David Ospina will have felt he had it covered, and did so again late on when Cesc Fabregas’s cross was deflected onto the outside of the goal-frame. The first penalty claim came when Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beat out Iwobi’s powerful shot, after a mistake by Antonio Rudiger who unwisely tried to pass the ball out of his own area to Danny Drinkwater only for it to be intercepted. The rebound fell to Ainsley Maitland-Niles and he attempted to burst past Moses, going down. There were chants of “VAR” from the Arsenal fans but the penalty appeal was rejected after Atkinson clearly – with his hand to his ear – consulted with Neil Swarbrick, the official back at the television headquarters. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal In the second-half Chelsea laid siege. Marcos Alonso flicked on a cross to Andreas Christensen who headed over, at full stretch, from a couple of yards out. He should have scored. The ball bounced off Morata at close-range from another corner before the striker ran at goal and struck a powerful 25-yard shot that Ospina turned away. Then Morata hit the side-netting again as the goalkeeper rushed out. It continued. Mustafi cut out Moses’ goal-bound shot for a corner, Christensen headed wastefully wide once more, Hazard elected to pass when he had to shoot and then Chelsea questioned whether they should have had a penalty as Fabregas went over under Danny Welbeck’s challenge and again Atkinson delayed, pressing his hand to his ear, but again it was not given. It remains on the edge. 10:20PM Antonio Conte "I think when there are this type of situation you have adapt about this and you have to check but at the same time if you have to check in extra time I think you have to consider this, for me the only disappointment is about extra time because I think in the second half the doctor went on the pitch twice and the referee stop to listen to the VAR, you have to give more minutes extra time. In Italy sometimes extra time is seven, eight minutes. "It's important every game to try to win, we tried with all of our strength, created chances to score. The last few times we are not so clinical and despite you shoot for 20 times we don't score and I think we have a reflect on this stat. "[Hazard] was a technical substitution. "Every game is different. For example if you compare this game with last game with Arsenal, Arsenal played this a very different way. They stayed very deep to exploit the counter-attack. The last game was more open and the both teams tried to win the game. They played very well defensively and it was another game today." 10:07PM Arsene Wenger confirms Coquelin is gone We already knew but Wenger has just confirmed that Coquelin is off to Valencia. He's also not sure whether Wilshere has come out of this game unscathed but that Ramsey should be back soon. 10:02PM Arsenal post-match reaction Callum Chambers "Very pleased, I think it's a good result and we were strong at the back. The boys dug in. "You're aware, you can see them talking in their ear so it's one of those, gotta get used to it.  "It was a good defensively display from the whole team and I think that's the best thing to come from tonight. "We've been playing Chelsea a lot recently so we know how they play, they know how we play. I thought tonight we were up for it, up for the fight." Danny Welbeck "I didn't know the VAR was actually for that incident, I knew I got the ball so. I could see him talking in his ear but I knew I got the ball clearly so I wasn't worried. "I know whatever tactics we use when I get on the pitch I give my all. " 9:59PM How the shapes changed during the match Average touch positions (0 min)   9:51PM FULL TIME That's a fair result. The teams cancelled each other out, adjusted tactically during the game and were able to create chances, although none that should have turned into goals. The second leg will be ace. 9:50PM 90 mins +5 Arsenal have done well here. Chelsea have had all the chances: Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  But Arsenal have been a match for everything thrown at them. Chelsea go looking for one last chance. Can they get it? 9:47PM 90 mins +2 Sanchez is all on his own surrounded by five Chelsea players and can't hold on to the ball. Arsenal are looking to just see out the 0-0 here. 9:45PM 90 mins Oooooh but now Martin Atkinson is talking to the VAR. The replay isn't conclusive at all! It looks like Welbeck gets some of the ball but also takes out Fabregas in the area. Is it clear and obvious? We wait. No! It's a corner. Anti-climax but at least it's the right decision. The referees all think it's no penalty, everyone can be happy. 9:43PM 88 mins PENALTY! Is it? The referee says no instantly! There will be no VAR decision again. Fabregas went down at high speed there. Chelsea have a corner. 9:43PM 87 mins I think Sanchez has given the ball away almost every single time he's tried to pass forward since coming on. He's busy though, and is looking to make things happen. Xhaka tries to shoot from 30 yards. No goals occur. Elneny is booked for bringing down Morata in the Arsenal half. Batshuayi comes on to replace the Spaniard. 9:40PM 85 mins Sanchez wins a free-kick from a Willian tackle and wants to take it himself. Hazard is taken off for Bakayoko, which might mean a switch back to the 3-1-4-2 from earlier when Chelsea were dominating. The free-kick goes short to Elneny and is rubbish. Chelsea break until Morata runs the ball out of play for a throw. 9:39PM 83 mins Sanchez tries to press but nobody else has quite as much energy and Chelsea easily bypass it. Fabregas can't reach a forward pass and Arsenal win possession. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   9:36PM 80 mins Kante is booked for bringing down Welbeck and that's where the earlier yellow card he didn't get comes into play. Because that should probably his second! Controversial scenes. Sanchez stands over the free-kick, curls it in and puts it ahead of everyone in the box. Mustafi can't get there and it's a goal kick. 9:35PM 79 mins Sanchez carries the ball at pace and tries to release Welbeck.. but is blocked. Chelsea turn that into an attack and Alonso shoots from 25 yards but is saved. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Marcos Alonso, 77 min) Sanchez is bouncing around shouting at teammates who have the audacity not to pass to him. Welbeck takes the chance to shoot and gets that friendly treatment too. 9:31PM 76 mins Willian has a pop from 25 yards but Ospina saves on the dive, making it look relatively easy, if not slightly over dramatic.  Sanchez is trying to get involved in the game but hasn't quite been able to do so yet. 9:29PM 73 mins That's the Iwobi we're more used to. Arsenal break quickly, Iwobi goes through the middle and then snatches at his shot, watching it dribble towards goal. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alex Iwobi, 72 min) He could be such an amazing player with just a bit of work. 9:26PM 70 mins Calum Chambers is down in pain now. His studs get caught in the grass a little bit as he tries to turn and he goes down visibly uncomfortable. He's not clawing at the air desperately as though it's a real bad one and he's on his feet now anyway. 9:24PM 68 mins Drinkwater off, Willian on. That might mean a change of shape to a 3-4-3 rather than 3-1-4-2. Kante will shift into a central midfield slot beside Fabregas. 9:23PM 67 mins Chelsea are increasing the pressure on Arsenal's backline. Welbeck gives away a free-kick wide right and shockingly, beyond any realm of imagination, it is Lacazette who comes off for Sanchez. Shiver my timbers. The free-kick goes all the way left, Alonso puts it back in and Moses has space! He controls and then thrashes a shot at goal but a block by Mustafi turns it over. This corner is curled in, Ospina is lost in the middle of nowhere - dreadful goalkeeping - and Christensen meets the cross. It's an open goal... but wide. Close for Chelsea!   9:21PM 65 mins Alexis Sanchez is getting ready to come on. I wonder who will be substituted? Let's see... it's nearly the 70th minute and Lacazette hasn't scored which means... it's probably... definitely going to be.... 9:19PM 63 mins Arsenal finally get forward and Maitland-Niles looks up from the left wing and chips a lovely ball over the defenders towards Welbeck in the middle. Chelsea get it away. Average touch positions (61 min) You can see Chelsea's shape very clearly here but Arsenal's is a little confusing.  9:16PM 61 mins Arsenal could do with changing something here. Chelsea are all over them. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  Arsenal getting most players behind the ball now, absorbing the Chelsea attacks before making lame attempts at counter-attacks. Chelsea passing around confidently, going for direct balls towards the wings and Morata. 9:14PM 58 mins Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 56 min) Great save from Ospina! And Morata goes close again just after Wilshere is replaced by Elneny. Mustafi wants a foul for jumping too early and bouncing off the striker, Ospina comes out and Morata tries to squeeze a tight shot underneath the goalie. Goal kick. 9:13PM 56 mins A corner is whipped into the near post, Alonso gets something to it but can only force the shot wide. Wilshere is treated by Arsenal's physio a.k.a Gale from Breaking Bad but is back on the pitch. The shot from Drinkwater came off his dangling leg and could well have jarred the ligaments, the kind of thing that happens in five a side to at least one person every week. It looks like he might have to come off after all. Credit: REUTERS  Hopefully that's just a precaution. 9:10PM 55 mins Arsenal are trying to play out from the back but just cannot do it! The press is really intense and high and defenders are being forced into the six yard box to make a pass. Whenever that happens the high pass needed gives possession back to Chelsea. Chelsea have a corner after Drinkwater batters a ball from close range off Wilshere's ankle. Oh dear. He's down having treatment. 9:08PM 52 mins Booking for Xhaka. I had that sentence ready to paste.  He slides in and takes out Rudiger after another poor bit of play handed Chelsea possession deep in Arsenal's half. Alonso is lining up a 25 yard shot here. 9:07PM 51 mins Chelsea are more on the front foot in this half than they were the first. They're taking the game to Arsenal and look dangerous. They're also pressing higher up the pitch, getting Moses and Alonso further forward.  Kante and Drinkwater keep things ticking over in midfield while Chelsea attack down the flanks. 9:03PM 48 mins Kante is on the hunt for goals here. He's just had another go from inside the box with a difficult narrow angle volley but hits his own player. AND CHRISTENSEN AT THE BACK POST! Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Andreas Christensen, 47 min) So close! He might actually have done better there. Mustafi is beaten as the ball bounces off a head and falls to the Dane but he puts a bit too much on the header and it goes over. 9:01PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! 9:00PM Ross Barkley on the pitch He's waving at the fans, taking selfies, applauding - all of this while carrying a hamstring injury. What a guy. 8:58PM No VAR yet VAR has been utilised a few times so far then but nothing incredible has come of it. No penalties, yellow cards or reversed decisions. That said, at least Martin Atkinson has been sure of all the choices he has made in this game. He'll sleep well tonight.  8:47PM HALF TIME That was entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it. No goals though. I have particularly been interested in Arsenal's strange 3-6-1 formation. Average touch positions (half time) 8:46PM 45 mins Free-kick to Chelsea wide right. It's crossed in and Welbeck clears for a corner. Fabregas gets it short, Hazard crosses backwards to Azpilicueta... who goes for the ball over the top again! Fabregas is in behind the defence and one on one! He heads at goal... but straight at Ospina! Saved!  Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Cesc Fàbregas, 45 min)   8:43PM 43 mins Hazard is quick onto a smart flick from Morata but Ospina watches it and comes off his line to smother the through ball. Maitland-Niles has taken his turn to trick his way past Moses but runs out of room and nearly goes over the advertising boards. 8:39PM 40 mins Good save by Courtois! The shot is parried from Iwobi as the ball drops to him and then Moses looks to have tripped Maitland-Niles in the area! Moses scarpers away... Martin Atkinson gets advice from the VAR... will it be? WILL IT BE?  No. 8:37PM 38 mins Mustafi is way too eager to stop Morata kicking the ball and brings him down for a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Fabregas takes it short for Kante! Surprise! He gets it all wrong and slices with power over the bar. Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (N'Golo Kanté, 37 min)   8:33PM 35 mins Iwobi has been Arsenal's best player tonight. He's working really hard, making clever driving runs through the middle when the chance is on and is covering his defensive positions too. This is instead of the usual sideways passing, refusing to shoot Iwobi that we're used to. Chelsea win a corner after a Maitland-Niles error but Drinkwater hoofs a shot way over the bar. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:31PM 32 mins Credit: AFP Arsenal have another corner. This time Xhaka gets a better deliver and Mustafi puts his head on it. Wide.  8:30PM 31 mins VAR ALERT! Azpilicueta has been shoved to the ground by Chambers while they grapple for a corner. The referee has looked at the evidence, and then done exactly what he would have done if he hadn't seen it. Nothing. Xhaka is getting pelters from the Chelsea fans by his corner and hurriedly takes it, failing to clear the near post. The supporters love it.  8:28PM 28 mins Drinkwater is neat, turns back and plays Kante in, who drives forward and nobody can get close. The ball ends up with Alonso, who teases Bellerin before hitting a low diagonal into the box that Morata very nearly turns at goal. Ospina would have had to do something special to save if Morata had been able to get a touch. Maitland-Niles has been done by Moses again... Chelsea will start probing that weakness from here on. They've figured it out and Moses is enjoying himself. 8:25PM 26 mins Great effort by Moses who cuts inside from the left, goes past Maitland-Niles without even really trying and then thumps a low shot at the near post. Ospina gets down, spills... and recovers. No Chelsea player close enough to stab in the rebound.  Welbeck tries to break past the defence but is easily stopped. Chelsea bring the ball up to halfway and then hit a long pass over the top. 8:22PM 23 mins Credit: AFP  No flag! Lacazette is in! A well timed run and Wilshere finds him, Courtois narrows the angle... and Lacazette blasts it wildly over the bar.  Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   8:20PM 21 mins Xhaka shoots low from the free-kick, about 25 yards out, and doesn't score. Nothing happens actually. Chelsea have the ball. 8:19PM 20 mins A rare bad tackle by Kante should probably result in a yellow card for the Frenchman as Iwobi goes on an even rarer driving run through the middle of the defence. Somehow, and I have no idea why, the referee doesn't give a yellow. That's about as textbook a yellow card example as you'll see - from behind, lunging, denying an attacking opportunity, late, done on purpose... how is it not a yellow? It's a good job they have VAR to review... oh. Oh I see. They haven't bothered. Or - and this is possible - I don't know enough about refereeing to accurately call that as a booking, even after several replays. 8:17PM 18 mins Xhaka applauds his teammates as they put each other under pressure in order to keep possession in their own box before turning defence into attack. Lacazette tries to go round the outside of a defender but it doesn't quite work and Chelsea have a goal kick. 8:15PM 17 mins Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:15PM 16 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES That was the tunnel to pitch walk earlier. Very atmospheric. Like a boxing match, or actually something more similar to WWE. The long ball is on for Chelsea and they keep looking for it. Morata's first touch is absolutely brilliant which turns punted kicks into excellent passes.  8:13PM 13 mins Chelsea are patient with their passing, Arsenal drop off and Azpilicueta goes for one of his now-signature long diagonal passes towards Morata. Instead it's Alonso who attacks and a defender has to get the ball away to prevent the chance. Arsenal win a goal kick. Chelsea are looking for this ball over the top of Arsenal's back three for a runner in the space behind the wing-backs. Hazard nearly gets in at goal. 8:10PM 11 mins Xhaka takes a low corner and it comes all the way to Bellerin on the left (the corner was from the right). Alonso takes care of things, Kante cleans up... or does he? Arsenal regain possession high up the pitch but have to pass backwards. There's a nice tempo to the passing  and Arsenal have come out of their own half. 8:08PM 8 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea aren't quite on their game yet.  This graphic pretty perfectly summarises the opening minutes: Average touch positions (6 min)   8:06PM 6 mins Arsenal passing patiently around their own half but seem rather scared of going past halfway, since that is when Chelsea start trying to tackle them. Ospina is nearly put in trouble by a Mustafi back pass. Nearly. 8:04PM 4 mins Arsene Wenger is watching. Wenger and Jens Lehmann take their seats pic.twitter.com/1UVpRe6Uji— Matt McGeehan (@mattmcgeehan) January 10, 2018  I bet he's finding this in no way annoying. Wenger joins media to watch the game pic.twitter.com/FfyB8eGGUo— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 10, 2018   8:03PM 3 mins Arsenal are definitely a three man defence, Mustafi the central centre-back. Chelsea are looking to press at halfway, drawing Arsenal out from the back to create some space. Arsenal are employing a higher press but aren't doing it very well early on. Iwobi sort of tries, Lacazette drops deep, Welbeck tries a bit... Chelsea get forward and Morata hits the side netting. Already!  Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 2 min)   8:00PM KICK-OFF Here we go, here we go, here we go (repeat x infinity). 7:56PM David Luiz is there Credit: REUTERS Could we see the Brazilian playing tonight? Probably not. And if you read some... let's not call it news, because it isn't, but very tenuous links on pages that are usually proven entirely factually inaccurate have linked Luiz with a move away from west London this transfer window. Barcelona and Arsenal are the touted destinations. Not for me, Clive. 7:50PM Antonio Conte's thoughts "For sure it is a trophy and for this reason we want to reach the final but Arsenal will be the same." 7:44PM There he is Credit: REUTERS The other big talking point this evening, other than the game of football, is VAR. Quite why clubs are required to invest in extremely expensive equipment to review decisions instead of just watching a live feed already available in the grounds doesn't make an awful lot of sense to me. They have monitors in the press box - just give referees one of them! 7:34PM Francis Coquelin Au revoir Francis! The midfielder has signed for Valencia for a £12million transfer fee.  7:15PM Wenger looking forward to VAR "Well we look forward to this because we lost at the weekend. Being out of the FA Cup that we won many times and being in the semi final of the LC it becomes an important game. "[Ozil] has a reoccurrance of his knee problem, he saw a specialist today, we hope it is short term. He came in and couldn't practise." WHY IS SANCHEZ ON THE BENCH, EH? "You cannot explain every decision but that is the decision of the game. He is ready to play a part in this game." Are you excited about VAR helping penalty decisions? "Yes of course because I think sometimes at real pace its hard to detect what is a penalty."  7:06PM Barkley in a Chelsea strip Credit: GETTY IMAGES Well, it's not an actual kit, but the team clothing. Look away Everton fans.  7:02PM Starting lineups Chelsea Team to face Arsenal: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Alonso; Hazard, Morata. #CHEARSpic.twitter.com/jbcvsjsgXG— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 10, 2018 Arsenal NO SANCHEZ! He is on the bench, and has played quite a lot of games... but... �� TEAM NEWS ��#CFCvAFCpic.twitter.com/V7uEqX9Hlh— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 10, 2018   6:37PM Arsene Wenger's seat Credit: PA Credit: PA This is where Arsene Wenger will have to watch today's game, which is in the press box. That's the same bit that lucky journalists get to do 'work' (it is actually work) while taking in the match, which might mean we get some quotes from the man himself. That is unless he's taken some friends with him to hide between. Like Huell from Breaking Bad. 6:22PM Good evening Hello everyone, welcome to our liveblog for the second first leg of this season's League Cup semi-finals. Man City left it late yesterday against Bristol City but may have taken things a little too easy - neither team can afford to approach tonight's match in the same manner. Chelsea just announced a new contract has been agreed with Andreas Christensen and the Dane may well start this evening. Antonio Conte is unlikely to name a weakened first XI for this one even after a hectic festive schedule and more big names will surely play too. Ross Barkley won't make it because he's still recovering from a hamstring injury, Danny Drinkwater might start ahead of Tiemoue Bakayoko. N'Golo Kante has never-ending energy and could play every game if he wanted, probably. Credit: PA Arsenal's injury list, as ever, is long and worrying. Koscielny, Monreal, Giroud, Kolasinac and Ramsey are all out while Mustafi, Xhaka and Ozil are serious doubts. And so Wenger must turn to the youth team and an allegedly naughty Alex Iwobi to try and win this one. Lacazette might finally get 90 minutes, Danny Welbeck may actually get a game and David Ospina will be risked deployed in goal. And yes, Alexis Sanchez will probably play too. Could this be his last game for Arsenal? Will he actually start? We'll find out when the teams are announced at 19:00.

Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0, League Cup semi-final first leg: VAR in the spotlight in London derby stalemate

The ‘VAR’ was used but this was more a ‘Very Average Response’ as Chelsea and Arsenal played out a goalless stalemate in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final. The Video Assistant Referee was called upon, to help adjudicate on two penalties claims, one for each side, and it was correct that neither was given even if the sight of the official Martin Atkinson pressing his finger to his ear added to the fans’ confused frustration. Instead it was an encounter which also left Arsenal supporters wondering if Alexis Sanchez will be at the club for the second leg, in a fortnight’s time, after he started on the substitutes’ bench and with a January move to Manchester City appearing increasingly likely. Arsene Wenger later denied that was the case while confirming that Jack Wilshere, his captain for the night, had suffered yet another injury to add to Arsenal’s worrying roll call of absentees. However the midfielder’s apparent ankle strain, received in blocking a shot, should not keep him out too long. It is hoped. Wenger watched the match from the press box – serving the second game of his three-fixture ban – and was, frankly, more entertaining that what happened out on the pitch, at times. It was a close-by study for reporters on the agonies that a manager goes through as he slammed his desk, kicked the seat in front of him and failed to stifle the odd shout over decisions or his players not being in position even if he was 25 yards away. Was this Alexis Sanchez's final game as an Arsenal player? Credit: CAMERASPORT By the end Arsenal commendably kept Chelsea at bay and there was also a sense that there is too much of a familiarity about these two teams now. This was their fourth meeting of the season, their fourth draw, but this was a far cry from the thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates last week. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte marched onto the pitch to speak to Atkinson at the final whistle – having drawn an imaginary ‘TV’ with his hands, presumably calling for another video referral – but later said he had only questioned an offside call. There were chances. But, crucially, both Chelsea and Arsenal are carrying strikers at present who are suffering from a lack of confidence which was evidenced in the opening two minutes when Alvaro Morata was put through by Eden Hazard only to snatch at the chance and prod the ball into the side-netting. Wenger joined journalists in the press box Credit: REUTERS Then, with Arsenal’s first, and best, opening, superbly fashioned by Wilshere, who was their most positive, influential player, as he lifted the ball through, Alexandre Lacazette had the chance to run at goal but slashed wildly at his shot from just inside the penalty area and struck it high over the cross-bar. He had to do better. Arsenal will, of course, come away the happier and rightly so. It is all to play for but they are at home and after going out of the FA Cup so pitifully last Sunday, away to Nottingham Forest, this was a performance that showed the resolve and determination they so sorely lacked. It was a different XI, also, although Alex Iwobi – accused of partying late too close to the Forest game – surprisingly kept his place while Sanchez, expected to start, was benched before he came on in the second-half but to little effect. Chelsea will feel they created enough opportunities to have won, maybe even to have put this tie to bed, but it is three draws in a row for them in all competitions and further evidence as to why they are looking for another striker during this window with Morata needing a rest, and back-up, and little faith in Michy Batshuayi who also came on as a late substitute and headed over the one opening that came his way. Neither could Conte turn to new signing, Ross Barkley, who was not deemed fit enough. Average touch positions (0 min) Chelsea struck the post in the first-half, from a Victor Moses shot, although goalkeeper David Ospina will have felt he had it covered, and did so again late on when Cesc Fabregas’s cross was deflected onto the outside of the goal-frame. The first penalty claim came when Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beat out Iwobi’s powerful shot, after a mistake by Antonio Rudiger who unwisely tried to pass the ball out of his own area to Danny Drinkwater only for it to be intercepted. The rebound fell to Ainsley Maitland-Niles and he attempted to burst past Moses, going down. There were chants of “VAR” from the Arsenal fans but the penalty appeal was rejected after Atkinson clearly – with his hand to his ear – consulted with Neil Swarbrick, the official back at the television headquarters. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal In the second-half Chelsea laid siege. Marcos Alonso flicked on a cross to Andreas Christensen who headed over, at full stretch, from a couple of yards out. He should have scored. The ball bounced off Morata at close-range from another corner before the striker ran at goal and struck a powerful 25-yard shot that Ospina turned away. Then Morata hit the side-netting again as the goalkeeper rushed out. It continued. Mustafi cut out Moses’ goal-bound shot for a corner, Christensen headed wastefully wide once more, Hazard elected to pass when he had to shoot and then Chelsea questioned whether they should have had a penalty as Fabregas went over under Danny Welbeck’s challenge and again Atkinson delayed, pressing his hand to his ear, but again it was not given. It remains on the edge. 10:20PM Antonio Conte "I think when there are this type of situation you have adapt about this and you have to check but at the same time if you have to check in extra time I think you have to consider this, for me the only disappointment is about extra time because I think in the second half the doctor went on the pitch twice and the referee stop to listen to the VAR, you have to give more minutes extra time. In Italy sometimes extra time is seven, eight minutes. "It's important every game to try to win, we tried with all of our strength, created chances to score. The last few times we are not so clinical and despite you shoot for 20 times we don't score and I think we have a reflect on this stat. "[Hazard] was a technical substitution. "Every game is different. For example if you compare this game with last game with Arsenal, Arsenal played this a very different way. They stayed very deep to exploit the counter-attack. The last game was more open and the both teams tried to win the game. They played very well defensively and it was another game today." 10:07PM Arsene Wenger confirms Coquelin is gone We already knew but Wenger has just confirmed that Coquelin is off to Valencia. He's also not sure whether Wilshere has come out of this game unscathed but that Ramsey should be back soon. 10:02PM Arsenal post-match reaction Callum Chambers "Very pleased, I think it's a good result and we were strong at the back. The boys dug in. "You're aware, you can see them talking in their ear so it's one of those, gotta get used to it.  "It was a good defensively display from the whole team and I think that's the best thing to come from tonight. "We've been playing Chelsea a lot recently so we know how they play, they know how we play. I thought tonight we were up for it, up for the fight." Danny Welbeck "I didn't know the VAR was actually for that incident, I knew I got the ball so. I could see him talking in his ear but I knew I got the ball clearly so I wasn't worried. "I know whatever tactics we use when I get on the pitch I give my all. " 9:59PM How the shapes changed during the match Average touch positions (0 min)   9:51PM FULL TIME That's a fair result. The teams cancelled each other out, adjusted tactically during the game and were able to create chances, although none that should have turned into goals. The second leg will be ace. 9:50PM 90 mins +5 Arsenal have done well here. Chelsea have had all the chances: Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  But Arsenal have been a match for everything thrown at them. Chelsea go looking for one last chance. Can they get it? 9:47PM 90 mins +2 Sanchez is all on his own surrounded by five Chelsea players and can't hold on to the ball. Arsenal are looking to just see out the 0-0 here. 9:45PM 90 mins Oooooh but now Martin Atkinson is talking to the VAR. The replay isn't conclusive at all! It looks like Welbeck gets some of the ball but also takes out Fabregas in the area. Is it clear and obvious? We wait. No! It's a corner. Anti-climax but at least it's the right decision. The referees all think it's no penalty, everyone can be happy. 9:43PM 88 mins PENALTY! Is it? The referee says no instantly! There will be no VAR decision again. Fabregas went down at high speed there. Chelsea have a corner. 9:43PM 87 mins I think Sanchez has given the ball away almost every single time he's tried to pass forward since coming on. He's busy though, and is looking to make things happen. Xhaka tries to shoot from 30 yards. No goals occur. Elneny is booked for bringing down Morata in the Arsenal half. Batshuayi comes on to replace the Spaniard. 9:40PM 85 mins Sanchez wins a free-kick from a Willian tackle and wants to take it himself. Hazard is taken off for Bakayoko, which might mean a switch back to the 3-1-4-2 from earlier when Chelsea were dominating. The free-kick goes short to Elneny and is rubbish. Chelsea break until Morata runs the ball out of play for a throw. 9:39PM 83 mins Sanchez tries to press but nobody else has quite as much energy and Chelsea easily bypass it. Fabregas can't reach a forward pass and Arsenal win possession. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   9:36PM 80 mins Kante is booked for bringing down Welbeck and that's where the earlier yellow card he didn't get comes into play. Because that should probably his second! Controversial scenes. Sanchez stands over the free-kick, curls it in and puts it ahead of everyone in the box. Mustafi can't get there and it's a goal kick. 9:35PM 79 mins Sanchez carries the ball at pace and tries to release Welbeck.. but is blocked. Chelsea turn that into an attack and Alonso shoots from 25 yards but is saved. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Marcos Alonso, 77 min) Sanchez is bouncing around shouting at teammates who have the audacity not to pass to him. Welbeck takes the chance to shoot and gets that friendly treatment too. 9:31PM 76 mins Willian has a pop from 25 yards but Ospina saves on the dive, making it look relatively easy, if not slightly over dramatic.  Sanchez is trying to get involved in the game but hasn't quite been able to do so yet. 9:29PM 73 mins That's the Iwobi we're more used to. Arsenal break quickly, Iwobi goes through the middle and then snatches at his shot, watching it dribble towards goal. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alex Iwobi, 72 min) He could be such an amazing player with just a bit of work. 9:26PM 70 mins Calum Chambers is down in pain now. His studs get caught in the grass a little bit as he tries to turn and he goes down visibly uncomfortable. He's not clawing at the air desperately as though it's a real bad one and he's on his feet now anyway. 9:24PM 68 mins Drinkwater off, Willian on. That might mean a change of shape to a 3-4-3 rather than 3-1-4-2. Kante will shift into a central midfield slot beside Fabregas. 9:23PM 67 mins Chelsea are increasing the pressure on Arsenal's backline. Welbeck gives away a free-kick wide right and shockingly, beyond any realm of imagination, it is Lacazette who comes off for Sanchez. Shiver my timbers. The free-kick goes all the way left, Alonso puts it back in and Moses has space! He controls and then thrashes a shot at goal but a block by Mustafi turns it over. This corner is curled in, Ospina is lost in the middle of nowhere - dreadful goalkeeping - and Christensen meets the cross. It's an open goal... but wide. Close for Chelsea!   9:21PM 65 mins Alexis Sanchez is getting ready to come on. I wonder who will be substituted? Let's see... it's nearly the 70th minute and Lacazette hasn't scored which means... it's probably... definitely going to be.... 9:19PM 63 mins Arsenal finally get forward and Maitland-Niles looks up from the left wing and chips a lovely ball over the defenders towards Welbeck in the middle. Chelsea get it away. Average touch positions (61 min) You can see Chelsea's shape very clearly here but Arsenal's is a little confusing.  9:16PM 61 mins Arsenal could do with changing something here. Chelsea are all over them. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  Arsenal getting most players behind the ball now, absorbing the Chelsea attacks before making lame attempts at counter-attacks. Chelsea passing around confidently, going for direct balls towards the wings and Morata. 9:14PM 58 mins Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 56 min) Great save from Ospina! And Morata goes close again just after Wilshere is replaced by Elneny. Mustafi wants a foul for jumping too early and bouncing off the striker, Ospina comes out and Morata tries to squeeze a tight shot underneath the goalie. Goal kick. 9:13PM 56 mins A corner is whipped into the near post, Alonso gets something to it but can only force the shot wide. Wilshere is treated by Arsenal's physio a.k.a Gale from Breaking Bad but is back on the pitch. The shot from Drinkwater came off his dangling leg and could well have jarred the ligaments, the kind of thing that happens in five a side to at least one person every week. It looks like he might have to come off after all. Credit: REUTERS  Hopefully that's just a precaution. 9:10PM 55 mins Arsenal are trying to play out from the back but just cannot do it! The press is really intense and high and defenders are being forced into the six yard box to make a pass. Whenever that happens the high pass needed gives possession back to Chelsea. Chelsea have a corner after Drinkwater batters a ball from close range off Wilshere's ankle. Oh dear. He's down having treatment. 9:08PM 52 mins Booking for Xhaka. I had that sentence ready to paste.  He slides in and takes out Rudiger after another poor bit of play handed Chelsea possession deep in Arsenal's half. Alonso is lining up a 25 yard shot here. 9:07PM 51 mins Chelsea are more on the front foot in this half than they were the first. They're taking the game to Arsenal and look dangerous. They're also pressing higher up the pitch, getting Moses and Alonso further forward.  Kante and Drinkwater keep things ticking over in midfield while Chelsea attack down the flanks. 9:03PM 48 mins Kante is on the hunt for goals here. He's just had another go from inside the box with a difficult narrow angle volley but hits his own player. AND CHRISTENSEN AT THE BACK POST! Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Andreas Christensen, 47 min) So close! He might actually have done better there. Mustafi is beaten as the ball bounces off a head and falls to the Dane but he puts a bit too much on the header and it goes over. 9:01PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! 9:00PM Ross Barkley on the pitch He's waving at the fans, taking selfies, applauding - all of this while carrying a hamstring injury. What a guy. 8:58PM No VAR yet VAR has been utilised a few times so far then but nothing incredible has come of it. No penalties, yellow cards or reversed decisions. That said, at least Martin Atkinson has been sure of all the choices he has made in this game. He'll sleep well tonight.  8:47PM HALF TIME That was entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it. No goals though. I have particularly been interested in Arsenal's strange 3-6-1 formation. Average touch positions (half time) 8:46PM 45 mins Free-kick to Chelsea wide right. It's crossed in and Welbeck clears for a corner. Fabregas gets it short, Hazard crosses backwards to Azpilicueta... who goes for the ball over the top again! Fabregas is in behind the defence and one on one! He heads at goal... but straight at Ospina! Saved!  Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Cesc Fàbregas, 45 min)   8:43PM 43 mins Hazard is quick onto a smart flick from Morata but Ospina watches it and comes off his line to smother the through ball. Maitland-Niles has taken his turn to trick his way past Moses but runs out of room and nearly goes over the advertising boards. 8:39PM 40 mins Good save by Courtois! The shot is parried from Iwobi as the ball drops to him and then Moses looks to have tripped Maitland-Niles in the area! Moses scarpers away... Martin Atkinson gets advice from the VAR... will it be? WILL IT BE?  No. 8:37PM 38 mins Mustafi is way too eager to stop Morata kicking the ball and brings him down for a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Fabregas takes it short for Kante! Surprise! He gets it all wrong and slices with power over the bar. Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (N'Golo Kanté, 37 min)   8:33PM 35 mins Iwobi has been Arsenal's best player tonight. He's working really hard, making clever driving runs through the middle when the chance is on and is covering his defensive positions too. This is instead of the usual sideways passing, refusing to shoot Iwobi that we're used to. Chelsea win a corner after a Maitland-Niles error but Drinkwater hoofs a shot way over the bar. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:31PM 32 mins Credit: AFP Arsenal have another corner. This time Xhaka gets a better deliver and Mustafi puts his head on it. Wide.  8:30PM 31 mins VAR ALERT! Azpilicueta has been shoved to the ground by Chambers while they grapple for a corner. The referee has looked at the evidence, and then done exactly what he would have done if he hadn't seen it. Nothing. Xhaka is getting pelters from the Chelsea fans by his corner and hurriedly takes it, failing to clear the near post. The supporters love it.  8:28PM 28 mins Drinkwater is neat, turns back and plays Kante in, who drives forward and nobody can get close. The ball ends up with Alonso, who teases Bellerin before hitting a low diagonal into the box that Morata very nearly turns at goal. Ospina would have had to do something special to save if Morata had been able to get a touch. Maitland-Niles has been done by Moses again... Chelsea will start probing that weakness from here on. They've figured it out and Moses is enjoying himself. 8:25PM 26 mins Great effort by Moses who cuts inside from the left, goes past Maitland-Niles without even really trying and then thumps a low shot at the near post. Ospina gets down, spills... and recovers. No Chelsea player close enough to stab in the rebound.  Welbeck tries to break past the defence but is easily stopped. Chelsea bring the ball up to halfway and then hit a long pass over the top. 8:22PM 23 mins Credit: AFP  No flag! Lacazette is in! A well timed run and Wilshere finds him, Courtois narrows the angle... and Lacazette blasts it wildly over the bar.  Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   8:20PM 21 mins Xhaka shoots low from the free-kick, about 25 yards out, and doesn't score. Nothing happens actually. Chelsea have the ball. 8:19PM 20 mins A rare bad tackle by Kante should probably result in a yellow card for the Frenchman as Iwobi goes on an even rarer driving run through the middle of the defence. Somehow, and I have no idea why, the referee doesn't give a yellow. That's about as textbook a yellow card example as you'll see - from behind, lunging, denying an attacking opportunity, late, done on purpose... how is it not a yellow? It's a good job they have VAR to review... oh. Oh I see. They haven't bothered. Or - and this is possible - I don't know enough about refereeing to accurately call that as a booking, even after several replays. 8:17PM 18 mins Xhaka applauds his teammates as they put each other under pressure in order to keep possession in their own box before turning defence into attack. Lacazette tries to go round the outside of a defender but it doesn't quite work and Chelsea have a goal kick. 8:15PM 17 mins Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:15PM 16 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES That was the tunnel to pitch walk earlier. Very atmospheric. Like a boxing match, or actually something more similar to WWE. The long ball is on for Chelsea and they keep looking for it. Morata's first touch is absolutely brilliant which turns punted kicks into excellent passes.  8:13PM 13 mins Chelsea are patient with their passing, Arsenal drop off and Azpilicueta goes for one of his now-signature long diagonal passes towards Morata. Instead it's Alonso who attacks and a defender has to get the ball away to prevent the chance. Arsenal win a goal kick. Chelsea are looking for this ball over the top of Arsenal's back three for a runner in the space behind the wing-backs. Hazard nearly gets in at goal. 8:10PM 11 mins Xhaka takes a low corner and it comes all the way to Bellerin on the left (the corner was from the right). Alonso takes care of things, Kante cleans up... or does he? Arsenal regain possession high up the pitch but have to pass backwards. There's a nice tempo to the passing  and Arsenal have come out of their own half. 8:08PM 8 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea aren't quite on their game yet.  This graphic pretty perfectly summarises the opening minutes: Average touch positions (6 min)   8:06PM 6 mins Arsenal passing patiently around their own half but seem rather scared of going past halfway, since that is when Chelsea start trying to tackle them. Ospina is nearly put in trouble by a Mustafi back pass. Nearly. 8:04PM 4 mins Arsene Wenger is watching. Wenger and Jens Lehmann take their seats pic.twitter.com/1UVpRe6Uji— Matt McGeehan (@mattmcgeehan) January 10, 2018  I bet he's finding this in no way annoying. Wenger joins media to watch the game pic.twitter.com/FfyB8eGGUo— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 10, 2018   8:03PM 3 mins Arsenal are definitely a three man defence, Mustafi the central centre-back. Chelsea are looking to press at halfway, drawing Arsenal out from the back to create some space. Arsenal are employing a higher press but aren't doing it very well early on. Iwobi sort of tries, Lacazette drops deep, Welbeck tries a bit... Chelsea get forward and Morata hits the side netting. Already!  Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 2 min)   8:00PM KICK-OFF Here we go, here we go, here we go (repeat x infinity). 7:56PM David Luiz is there Credit: REUTERS Could we see the Brazilian playing tonight? Probably not. And if you read some... let's not call it news, because it isn't, but very tenuous links on pages that are usually proven entirely factually inaccurate have linked Luiz with a move away from west London this transfer window. Barcelona and Arsenal are the touted destinations. Not for me, Clive. 7:50PM Antonio Conte's thoughts "For sure it is a trophy and for this reason we want to reach the final but Arsenal will be the same." 7:44PM There he is Credit: REUTERS The other big talking point this evening, other than the game of football, is VAR. Quite why clubs are required to invest in extremely expensive equipment to review decisions instead of just watching a live feed already available in the grounds doesn't make an awful lot of sense to me. They have monitors in the press box - just give referees one of them! 7:34PM Francis Coquelin Au revoir Francis! The midfielder has signed for Valencia for a £12million transfer fee.  7:15PM Wenger looking forward to VAR "Well we look forward to this because we lost at the weekend. Being out of the FA Cup that we won many times and being in the semi final of the LC it becomes an important game. "[Ozil] has a reoccurrance of his knee problem, he saw a specialist today, we hope it is short term. He came in and couldn't practise." WHY IS SANCHEZ ON THE BENCH, EH? "You cannot explain every decision but that is the decision of the game. He is ready to play a part in this game." Are you excited about VAR helping penalty decisions? "Yes of course because I think sometimes at real pace its hard to detect what is a penalty."  7:06PM Barkley in a Chelsea strip Credit: GETTY IMAGES Well, it's not an actual kit, but the team clothing. Look away Everton fans.  7:02PM Starting lineups Chelsea Team to face Arsenal: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Alonso; Hazard, Morata. #CHEARSpic.twitter.com/jbcvsjsgXG— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 10, 2018 Arsenal NO SANCHEZ! He is on the bench, and has played quite a lot of games... but... �� TEAM NEWS ��#CFCvAFCpic.twitter.com/V7uEqX9Hlh— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 10, 2018   6:37PM Arsene Wenger's seat Credit: PA Credit: PA This is where Arsene Wenger will have to watch today's game, which is in the press box. That's the same bit that lucky journalists get to do 'work' (it is actually work) while taking in the match, which might mean we get some quotes from the man himself. That is unless he's taken some friends with him to hide between. Like Huell from Breaking Bad. 6:22PM Good evening Hello everyone, welcome to our liveblog for the second first leg of this season's League Cup semi-finals. Man City left it late yesterday against Bristol City but may have taken things a little too easy - neither team can afford to approach tonight's match in the same manner. Chelsea just announced a new contract has been agreed with Andreas Christensen and the Dane may well start this evening. Antonio Conte is unlikely to name a weakened first XI for this one even after a hectic festive schedule and more big names will surely play too. Ross Barkley won't make it because he's still recovering from a hamstring injury, Danny Drinkwater might start ahead of Tiemoue Bakayoko. N'Golo Kante has never-ending energy and could play every game if he wanted, probably. Credit: PA Arsenal's injury list, as ever, is long and worrying. Koscielny, Monreal, Giroud, Kolasinac and Ramsey are all out while Mustafi, Xhaka and Ozil are serious doubts. And so Wenger must turn to the youth team and an allegedly naughty Alex Iwobi to try and win this one. Lacazette might finally get 90 minutes, Danny Welbeck may actually get a game and David Ospina will be risked deployed in goal. And yes, Alexis Sanchez will probably play too. Could this be his last game for Arsenal? Will he actually start? We'll find out when the teams are announced at 19:00.

Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0, League Cup semi-final first leg: VAR in the spotlight in London derby stalemate

The ‘VAR’ was used but this was more a ‘Very Average Response’ as Chelsea and Arsenal played out a goalless stalemate in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final. The Video Assistant Referee was called upon, to help adjudicate on two penalties claims, one for each side, and it was correct that neither was given even if the sight of the official Martin Atkinson pressing his finger to his ear added to the fans’ confused frustration. Instead it was an encounter which also left Arsenal supporters wondering if Alexis Sanchez will be at the club for the second leg, in a fortnight’s time, after he started on the substitutes’ bench and with a January move to Manchester City appearing increasingly likely. Arsene Wenger later denied that was the case while confirming that Jack Wilshere, his captain for the night, had suffered yet another injury to add to Arsenal’s worrying roll call of absentees. However the midfielder’s apparent ankle strain, received in blocking a shot, should not keep him out too long. It is hoped. Wenger watched the match from the press box – serving the second game of his three-fixture ban – and was, frankly, more entertaining that what happened out on the pitch, at times. It was a close-by study for reporters on the agonies that a manager goes through as he slammed his desk, kicked the seat in front of him and failed to stifle the odd shout over decisions or his players not being in position even if he was 25 yards away. Was this Alexis Sanchez's final game as an Arsenal player? Credit: CAMERASPORT By the end Arsenal commendably kept Chelsea at bay and there was also a sense that there is too much of a familiarity about these two teams now. This was their fourth meeting of the season, their fourth draw, but this was a far cry from the thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates last week. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte marched onto the pitch to speak to Atkinson at the final whistle – having drawn an imaginary ‘TV’ with his hands, presumably calling for another video referral – but later said he had only questioned an offside call. There were chances. But, crucially, both Chelsea and Arsenal are carrying strikers at present who are suffering from a lack of confidence which was evidenced in the opening two minutes when Alvaro Morata was put through by Eden Hazard only to snatch at the chance and prod the ball into the side-netting. Wenger joined journalists in the press box Credit: REUTERS Then, with Arsenal’s first, and best, opening, superbly fashioned by Wilshere, who was their most positive, influential player, as he lifted the ball through, Alexandre Lacazette had the chance to run at goal but slashed wildly at his shot from just inside the penalty area and struck it high over the cross-bar. He had to do better. Arsenal will, of course, come away the happier and rightly so. It is all to play for but they are at home and after going out of the FA Cup so pitifully last Sunday, away to Nottingham Forest, this was a performance that showed the resolve and determination they so sorely lacked. It was a different XI, also, although Alex Iwobi – accused of partying late too close to the Forest game – surprisingly kept his place while Sanchez, expected to start, was benched before he came on in the second-half but to little effect. Chelsea will feel they created enough opportunities to have won, maybe even to have put this tie to bed, but it is three draws in a row for them in all competitions and further evidence as to why they are looking for another striker during this window with Morata needing a rest, and back-up, and little faith in Michy Batshuayi who also came on as a late substitute and headed over the one opening that came his way. Neither could Conte turn to new signing, Ross Barkley, who was not deemed fit enough. Average touch positions (0 min) Chelsea struck the post in the first-half, from a Victor Moses shot, although goalkeeper David Ospina will have felt he had it covered, and did so again late on when Cesc Fabregas’s cross was deflected onto the outside of the goal-frame. The first penalty claim came when Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beat out Iwobi’s powerful shot, after a mistake by Antonio Rudiger who unwisely tried to pass the ball out of his own area to Danny Drinkwater only for it to be intercepted. The rebound fell to Ainsley Maitland-Niles and he attempted to burst past Moses, going down. There were chants of “VAR” from the Arsenal fans but the penalty appeal was rejected after Atkinson clearly – with his hand to his ear – consulted with Neil Swarbrick, the official back at the television headquarters. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal In the second-half Chelsea laid siege. Marcos Alonso flicked on a cross to Andreas Christensen who headed over, at full stretch, from a couple of yards out. He should have scored. The ball bounced off Morata at close-range from another corner before the striker ran at goal and struck a powerful 25-yard shot that Ospina turned away. Then Morata hit the side-netting again as the goalkeeper rushed out. It continued. Mustafi cut out Moses’ goal-bound shot for a corner, Christensen headed wastefully wide once more, Hazard elected to pass when he had to shoot and then Chelsea questioned whether they should have had a penalty as Fabregas went over under Danny Welbeck’s challenge and again Atkinson delayed, pressing his hand to his ear, but again it was not given. It remains on the edge. 10:20PM Antonio Conte "I think when there are this type of situation you have adapt about this and you have to check but at the same time if you have to check in extra time I think you have to consider this, for me the only disappointment is about extra time because I think in the second half the doctor went on the pitch twice and the referee stop to listen to the VAR, you have to give more minutes extra time. In Italy sometimes extra time is seven, eight minutes. "It's important every game to try to win, we tried with all of our strength, created chances to score. The last few times we are not so clinical and despite you shoot for 20 times we don't score and I think we have a reflect on this stat. "[Hazard] was a technical substitution. "Every game is different. For example if you compare this game with last game with Arsenal, Arsenal played this a very different way. They stayed very deep to exploit the counter-attack. The last game was more open and the both teams tried to win the game. They played very well defensively and it was another game today." 10:07PM Arsene Wenger confirms Coquelin is gone We already knew but Wenger has just confirmed that Coquelin is off to Valencia. He's also not sure whether Wilshere has come out of this game unscathed but that Ramsey should be back soon. 10:02PM Arsenal post-match reaction Callum Chambers "Very pleased, I think it's a good result and we were strong at the back. The boys dug in. "You're aware, you can see them talking in their ear so it's one of those, gotta get used to it.  "It was a good defensively display from the whole team and I think that's the best thing to come from tonight. "We've been playing Chelsea a lot recently so we know how they play, they know how we play. I thought tonight we were up for it, up for the fight." Danny Welbeck "I didn't know the VAR was actually for that incident, I knew I got the ball so. I could see him talking in his ear but I knew I got the ball clearly so I wasn't worried. "I know whatever tactics we use when I get on the pitch I give my all. " 9:59PM How the shapes changed during the match Average touch positions (0 min)   9:51PM FULL TIME That's a fair result. The teams cancelled each other out, adjusted tactically during the game and were able to create chances, although none that should have turned into goals. The second leg will be ace. 9:50PM 90 mins +5 Arsenal have done well here. Chelsea have had all the chances: Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  But Arsenal have been a match for everything thrown at them. Chelsea go looking for one last chance. Can they get it? 9:47PM 90 mins +2 Sanchez is all on his own surrounded by five Chelsea players and can't hold on to the ball. Arsenal are looking to just see out the 0-0 here. 9:45PM 90 mins Oooooh but now Martin Atkinson is talking to the VAR. The replay isn't conclusive at all! It looks like Welbeck gets some of the ball but also takes out Fabregas in the area. Is it clear and obvious? We wait. No! It's a corner. Anti-climax but at least it's the right decision. The referees all think it's no penalty, everyone can be happy. 9:43PM 88 mins PENALTY! Is it? The referee says no instantly! There will be no VAR decision again. Fabregas went down at high speed there. Chelsea have a corner. 9:43PM 87 mins I think Sanchez has given the ball away almost every single time he's tried to pass forward since coming on. He's busy though, and is looking to make things happen. Xhaka tries to shoot from 30 yards. No goals occur. Elneny is booked for bringing down Morata in the Arsenal half. Batshuayi comes on to replace the Spaniard. 9:40PM 85 mins Sanchez wins a free-kick from a Willian tackle and wants to take it himself. Hazard is taken off for Bakayoko, which might mean a switch back to the 3-1-4-2 from earlier when Chelsea were dominating. The free-kick goes short to Elneny and is rubbish. Chelsea break until Morata runs the ball out of play for a throw. 9:39PM 83 mins Sanchez tries to press but nobody else has quite as much energy and Chelsea easily bypass it. Fabregas can't reach a forward pass and Arsenal win possession. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   9:36PM 80 mins Kante is booked for bringing down Welbeck and that's where the earlier yellow card he didn't get comes into play. Because that should probably his second! Controversial scenes. Sanchez stands over the free-kick, curls it in and puts it ahead of everyone in the box. Mustafi can't get there and it's a goal kick. 9:35PM 79 mins Sanchez carries the ball at pace and tries to release Welbeck.. but is blocked. Chelsea turn that into an attack and Alonso shoots from 25 yards but is saved. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Marcos Alonso, 77 min) Sanchez is bouncing around shouting at teammates who have the audacity not to pass to him. Welbeck takes the chance to shoot and gets that friendly treatment too. 9:31PM 76 mins Willian has a pop from 25 yards but Ospina saves on the dive, making it look relatively easy, if not slightly over dramatic.  Sanchez is trying to get involved in the game but hasn't quite been able to do so yet. 9:29PM 73 mins That's the Iwobi we're more used to. Arsenal break quickly, Iwobi goes through the middle and then snatches at his shot, watching it dribble towards goal. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alex Iwobi, 72 min) He could be such an amazing player with just a bit of work. 9:26PM 70 mins Calum Chambers is down in pain now. His studs get caught in the grass a little bit as he tries to turn and he goes down visibly uncomfortable. He's not clawing at the air desperately as though it's a real bad one and he's on his feet now anyway. 9:24PM 68 mins Drinkwater off, Willian on. That might mean a change of shape to a 3-4-3 rather than 3-1-4-2. Kante will shift into a central midfield slot beside Fabregas. 9:23PM 67 mins Chelsea are increasing the pressure on Arsenal's backline. Welbeck gives away a free-kick wide right and shockingly, beyond any realm of imagination, it is Lacazette who comes off for Sanchez. Shiver my timbers. The free-kick goes all the way left, Alonso puts it back in and Moses has space! He controls and then thrashes a shot at goal but a block by Mustafi turns it over. This corner is curled in, Ospina is lost in the middle of nowhere - dreadful goalkeeping - and Christensen meets the cross. It's an open goal... but wide. Close for Chelsea!   9:21PM 65 mins Alexis Sanchez is getting ready to come on. I wonder who will be substituted? Let's see... it's nearly the 70th minute and Lacazette hasn't scored which means... it's probably... definitely going to be.... 9:19PM 63 mins Arsenal finally get forward and Maitland-Niles looks up from the left wing and chips a lovely ball over the defenders towards Welbeck in the middle. Chelsea get it away. Average touch positions (61 min) You can see Chelsea's shape very clearly here but Arsenal's is a little confusing.  9:16PM 61 mins Arsenal could do with changing something here. Chelsea are all over them. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  Arsenal getting most players behind the ball now, absorbing the Chelsea attacks before making lame attempts at counter-attacks. Chelsea passing around confidently, going for direct balls towards the wings and Morata. 9:14PM 58 mins Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 56 min) Great save from Ospina! And Morata goes close again just after Wilshere is replaced by Elneny. Mustafi wants a foul for jumping too early and bouncing off the striker, Ospina comes out and Morata tries to squeeze a tight shot underneath the goalie. Goal kick. 9:13PM 56 mins A corner is whipped into the near post, Alonso gets something to it but can only force the shot wide. Wilshere is treated by Arsenal's physio a.k.a Gale from Breaking Bad but is back on the pitch. The shot from Drinkwater came off his dangling leg and could well have jarred the ligaments, the kind of thing that happens in five a side to at least one person every week. It looks like he might have to come off after all. Credit: REUTERS  Hopefully that's just a precaution. 9:10PM 55 mins Arsenal are trying to play out from the back but just cannot do it! The press is really intense and high and defenders are being forced into the six yard box to make a pass. Whenever that happens the high pass needed gives possession back to Chelsea. Chelsea have a corner after Drinkwater batters a ball from close range off Wilshere's ankle. Oh dear. He's down having treatment. 9:08PM 52 mins Booking for Xhaka. I had that sentence ready to paste.  He slides in and takes out Rudiger after another poor bit of play handed Chelsea possession deep in Arsenal's half. Alonso is lining up a 25 yard shot here. 9:07PM 51 mins Chelsea are more on the front foot in this half than they were the first. They're taking the game to Arsenal and look dangerous. They're also pressing higher up the pitch, getting Moses and Alonso further forward.  Kante and Drinkwater keep things ticking over in midfield while Chelsea attack down the flanks. 9:03PM 48 mins Kante is on the hunt for goals here. He's just had another go from inside the box with a difficult narrow angle volley but hits his own player. AND CHRISTENSEN AT THE BACK POST! Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Andreas Christensen, 47 min) So close! He might actually have done better there. Mustafi is beaten as the ball bounces off a head and falls to the Dane but he puts a bit too much on the header and it goes over. 9:01PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! 9:00PM Ross Barkley on the pitch He's waving at the fans, taking selfies, applauding - all of this while carrying a hamstring injury. What a guy. 8:58PM No VAR yet VAR has been utilised a few times so far then but nothing incredible has come of it. No penalties, yellow cards or reversed decisions. That said, at least Martin Atkinson has been sure of all the choices he has made in this game. He'll sleep well tonight.  8:47PM HALF TIME That was entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it. No goals though. I have particularly been interested in Arsenal's strange 3-6-1 formation. Average touch positions (half time) 8:46PM 45 mins Free-kick to Chelsea wide right. It's crossed in and Welbeck clears for a corner. Fabregas gets it short, Hazard crosses backwards to Azpilicueta... who goes for the ball over the top again! Fabregas is in behind the defence and one on one! He heads at goal... but straight at Ospina! Saved!  Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Cesc Fàbregas, 45 min)   8:43PM 43 mins Hazard is quick onto a smart flick from Morata but Ospina watches it and comes off his line to smother the through ball. Maitland-Niles has taken his turn to trick his way past Moses but runs out of room and nearly goes over the advertising boards. 8:39PM 40 mins Good save by Courtois! The shot is parried from Iwobi as the ball drops to him and then Moses looks to have tripped Maitland-Niles in the area! Moses scarpers away... Martin Atkinson gets advice from the VAR... will it be? WILL IT BE?  No. 8:37PM 38 mins Mustafi is way too eager to stop Morata kicking the ball and brings him down for a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Fabregas takes it short for Kante! Surprise! He gets it all wrong and slices with power over the bar. Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (N'Golo Kanté, 37 min)   8:33PM 35 mins Iwobi has been Arsenal's best player tonight. He's working really hard, making clever driving runs through the middle when the chance is on and is covering his defensive positions too. This is instead of the usual sideways passing, refusing to shoot Iwobi that we're used to. Chelsea win a corner after a Maitland-Niles error but Drinkwater hoofs a shot way over the bar. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:31PM 32 mins Credit: AFP Arsenal have another corner. This time Xhaka gets a better deliver and Mustafi puts his head on it. Wide.  8:30PM 31 mins VAR ALERT! Azpilicueta has been shoved to the ground by Chambers while they grapple for a corner. The referee has looked at the evidence, and then done exactly what he would have done if he hadn't seen it. Nothing. Xhaka is getting pelters from the Chelsea fans by his corner and hurriedly takes it, failing to clear the near post. The supporters love it.  8:28PM 28 mins Drinkwater is neat, turns back and plays Kante in, who drives forward and nobody can get close. The ball ends up with Alonso, who teases Bellerin before hitting a low diagonal into the box that Morata very nearly turns at goal. Ospina would have had to do something special to save if Morata had been able to get a touch. Maitland-Niles has been done by Moses again... Chelsea will start probing that weakness from here on. They've figured it out and Moses is enjoying himself. 8:25PM 26 mins Great effort by Moses who cuts inside from the left, goes past Maitland-Niles without even really trying and then thumps a low shot at the near post. Ospina gets down, spills... and recovers. No Chelsea player close enough to stab in the rebound.  Welbeck tries to break past the defence but is easily stopped. Chelsea bring the ball up to halfway and then hit a long pass over the top. 8:22PM 23 mins Credit: AFP  No flag! Lacazette is in! A well timed run and Wilshere finds him, Courtois narrows the angle... and Lacazette blasts it wildly over the bar.  Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   8:20PM 21 mins Xhaka shoots low from the free-kick, about 25 yards out, and doesn't score. Nothing happens actually. Chelsea have the ball. 8:19PM 20 mins A rare bad tackle by Kante should probably result in a yellow card for the Frenchman as Iwobi goes on an even rarer driving run through the middle of the defence. Somehow, and I have no idea why, the referee doesn't give a yellow. That's about as textbook a yellow card example as you'll see - from behind, lunging, denying an attacking opportunity, late, done on purpose... how is it not a yellow? It's a good job they have VAR to review... oh. Oh I see. They haven't bothered. Or - and this is possible - I don't know enough about refereeing to accurately call that as a booking, even after several replays. 8:17PM 18 mins Xhaka applauds his teammates as they put each other under pressure in order to keep possession in their own box before turning defence into attack. Lacazette tries to go round the outside of a defender but it doesn't quite work and Chelsea have a goal kick. 8:15PM 17 mins Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:15PM 16 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES That was the tunnel to pitch walk earlier. Very atmospheric. Like a boxing match, or actually something more similar to WWE. The long ball is on for Chelsea and they keep looking for it. Morata's first touch is absolutely brilliant which turns punted kicks into excellent passes.  8:13PM 13 mins Chelsea are patient with their passing, Arsenal drop off and Azpilicueta goes for one of his now-signature long diagonal passes towards Morata. Instead it's Alonso who attacks and a defender has to get the ball away to prevent the chance. Arsenal win a goal kick. Chelsea are looking for this ball over the top of Arsenal's back three for a runner in the space behind the wing-backs. Hazard nearly gets in at goal. 8:10PM 11 mins Xhaka takes a low corner and it comes all the way to Bellerin on the left (the corner was from the right). Alonso takes care of things, Kante cleans up... or does he? Arsenal regain possession high up the pitch but have to pass backwards. There's a nice tempo to the passing  and Arsenal have come out of their own half. 8:08PM 8 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea aren't quite on their game yet.  This graphic pretty perfectly summarises the opening minutes: Average touch positions (6 min)   8:06PM 6 mins Arsenal passing patiently around their own half but seem rather scared of going past halfway, since that is when Chelsea start trying to tackle them. Ospina is nearly put in trouble by a Mustafi back pass. Nearly. 8:04PM 4 mins Arsene Wenger is watching. Wenger and Jens Lehmann take their seats pic.twitter.com/1UVpRe6Uji— Matt McGeehan (@mattmcgeehan) January 10, 2018  I bet he's finding this in no way annoying. Wenger joins media to watch the game pic.twitter.com/FfyB8eGGUo— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 10, 2018   8:03PM 3 mins Arsenal are definitely a three man defence, Mustafi the central centre-back. Chelsea are looking to press at halfway, drawing Arsenal out from the back to create some space. Arsenal are employing a higher press but aren't doing it very well early on. Iwobi sort of tries, Lacazette drops deep, Welbeck tries a bit... Chelsea get forward and Morata hits the side netting. Already!  Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 2 min)   8:00PM KICK-OFF Here we go, here we go, here we go (repeat x infinity). 7:56PM David Luiz is there Credit: REUTERS Could we see the Brazilian playing tonight? Probably not. And if you read some... let's not call it news, because it isn't, but very tenuous links on pages that are usually proven entirely factually inaccurate have linked Luiz with a move away from west London this transfer window. Barcelona and Arsenal are the touted destinations. Not for me, Clive. 7:50PM Antonio Conte's thoughts "For sure it is a trophy and for this reason we want to reach the final but Arsenal will be the same." 7:44PM There he is Credit: REUTERS The other big talking point this evening, other than the game of football, is VAR. Quite why clubs are required to invest in extremely expensive equipment to review decisions instead of just watching a live feed already available in the grounds doesn't make an awful lot of sense to me. They have monitors in the press box - just give referees one of them! 7:34PM Francis Coquelin Au revoir Francis! The midfielder has signed for Valencia for a £12million transfer fee.  7:15PM Wenger looking forward to VAR "Well we look forward to this because we lost at the weekend. Being out of the FA Cup that we won many times and being in the semi final of the LC it becomes an important game. "[Ozil] has a reoccurrance of his knee problem, he saw a specialist today, we hope it is short term. He came in and couldn't practise." WHY IS SANCHEZ ON THE BENCH, EH? "You cannot explain every decision but that is the decision of the game. He is ready to play a part in this game." Are you excited about VAR helping penalty decisions? "Yes of course because I think sometimes at real pace its hard to detect what is a penalty."  7:06PM Barkley in a Chelsea strip Credit: GETTY IMAGES Well, it's not an actual kit, but the team clothing. Look away Everton fans.  7:02PM Starting lineups Chelsea Team to face Arsenal: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Alonso; Hazard, Morata. #CHEARSpic.twitter.com/jbcvsjsgXG— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 10, 2018 Arsenal NO SANCHEZ! He is on the bench, and has played quite a lot of games... but... �� TEAM NEWS ��#CFCvAFCpic.twitter.com/V7uEqX9Hlh— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 10, 2018   6:37PM Arsene Wenger's seat Credit: PA Credit: PA This is where Arsene Wenger will have to watch today's game, which is in the press box. That's the same bit that lucky journalists get to do 'work' (it is actually work) while taking in the match, which might mean we get some quotes from the man himself. That is unless he's taken some friends with him to hide between. Like Huell from Breaking Bad. 6:22PM Good evening Hello everyone, welcome to our liveblog for the second first leg of this season's League Cup semi-finals. Man City left it late yesterday against Bristol City but may have taken things a little too easy - neither team can afford to approach tonight's match in the same manner. Chelsea just announced a new contract has been agreed with Andreas Christensen and the Dane may well start this evening. Antonio Conte is unlikely to name a weakened first XI for this one even after a hectic festive schedule and more big names will surely play too. Ross Barkley won't make it because he's still recovering from a hamstring injury, Danny Drinkwater might start ahead of Tiemoue Bakayoko. N'Golo Kante has never-ending energy and could play every game if he wanted, probably. Credit: PA Arsenal's injury list, as ever, is long and worrying. Koscielny, Monreal, Giroud, Kolasinac and Ramsey are all out while Mustafi, Xhaka and Ozil are serious doubts. And so Wenger must turn to the youth team and an allegedly naughty Alex Iwobi to try and win this one. Lacazette might finally get 90 minutes, Danny Welbeck may actually get a game and David Ospina will be risked deployed in goal. And yes, Alexis Sanchez will probably play too. Could this be his last game for Arsenal? Will he actually start? We'll find out when the teams are announced at 19:00.

Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0, League Cup semi-final first leg: VAR in the spotlight in London derby stalemate

The ‘VAR’ was used but this was more a ‘Very Average Response’ as Chelsea and Arsenal played out a goalless stalemate in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final. The Video Assistant Referee was called upon, to help adjudicate on two penalties claims, one for each side, and it was correct that neither was given even if the sight of the official Martin Atkinson pressing his finger to his ear added to the fans’ confused frustration. Instead it was an encounter which also left Arsenal supporters wondering if Alexis Sanchez will be at the club for the second leg, in a fortnight’s time, after he started on the substitutes’ bench and with a January move to Manchester City appearing increasingly likely. Arsene Wenger later denied that was the case while confirming that Jack Wilshere, his captain for the night, had suffered yet another injury to add to Arsenal’s worrying roll call of absentees. However the midfielder’s apparent ankle strain, received in blocking a shot, should not keep him out too long. It is hoped. Wenger watched the match from the press box – serving the second game of his three-fixture ban – and was, frankly, more entertaining that what happened out on the pitch, at times. It was a close-by study for reporters on the agonies that a manager goes through as he slammed his desk, kicked the seat in front of him and failed to stifle the odd shout over decisions or his players not being in position even if he was 25 yards away. Was this Alexis Sanchez's final game as an Arsenal player? Credit: CAMERASPORT By the end Arsenal commendably kept Chelsea at bay and there was also a sense that there is too much of a familiarity about these two teams now. This was their fourth meeting of the season, their fourth draw, but this was a far cry from the thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates last week. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte marched onto the pitch to speak to Atkinson at the final whistle – having drawn an imaginary ‘TV’ with his hands, presumably calling for another video referral – but later said he had only questioned an offside call. There were chances. But, crucially, both Chelsea and Arsenal are carrying strikers at present who are suffering from a lack of confidence which was evidenced in the opening two minutes when Alvaro Morata was put through by Eden Hazard only to snatch at the chance and prod the ball into the side-netting. Wenger joined journalists in the press box Credit: REUTERS Then, with Arsenal’s first, and best, opening, superbly fashioned by Wilshere, who was their most positive, influential player, as he lifted the ball through, Alexandre Lacazette had the chance to run at goal but slashed wildly at his shot from just inside the penalty area and struck it high over the cross-bar. He had to do better. Arsenal will, of course, come away the happier and rightly so. It is all to play for but they are at home and after going out of the FA Cup so pitifully last Sunday, away to Nottingham Forest, this was a performance that showed the resolve and determination they so sorely lacked. It was a different XI, also, although Alex Iwobi – accused of partying late too close to the Forest game – surprisingly kept his place while Sanchez, expected to start, was benched before he came on in the second-half but to little effect. Chelsea will feel they created enough opportunities to have won, maybe even to have put this tie to bed, but it is three draws in a row for them in all competitions and further evidence as to why they are looking for another striker during this window with Morata needing a rest, and back-up, and little faith in Michy Batshuayi who also came on as a late substitute and headed over the one opening that came his way. Neither could Conte turn to new signing, Ross Barkley, who was not deemed fit enough. Average touch positions (0 min) Chelsea struck the post in the first-half, from a Victor Moses shot, although goalkeeper David Ospina will have felt he had it covered, and did so again late on when Cesc Fabregas’s cross was deflected onto the outside of the goal-frame. The first penalty claim came when Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beat out Iwobi’s powerful shot, after a mistake by Antonio Rudiger who unwisely tried to pass the ball out of his own area to Danny Drinkwater only for it to be intercepted. The rebound fell to Ainsley Maitland-Niles and he attempted to burst past Moses, going down. There were chants of “VAR” from the Arsenal fans but the penalty appeal was rejected after Atkinson clearly – with his hand to his ear – consulted with Neil Swarbrick, the official back at the television headquarters. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal In the second-half Chelsea laid siege. Marcos Alonso flicked on a cross to Andreas Christensen who headed over, at full stretch, from a couple of yards out. He should have scored. The ball bounced off Morata at close-range from another corner before the striker ran at goal and struck a powerful 25-yard shot that Ospina turned away. Then Morata hit the side-netting again as the goalkeeper rushed out. It continued. Mustafi cut out Moses’ goal-bound shot for a corner, Christensen headed wastefully wide once more, Hazard elected to pass when he had to shoot and then Chelsea questioned whether they should have had a penalty as Fabregas went over under Danny Welbeck’s challenge and again Atkinson delayed, pressing his hand to his ear, but again it was not given. It remains on the edge. 10:20PM Antonio Conte "I think when there are this type of situation you have adapt about this and you have to check but at the same time if you have to check in extra time I think you have to consider this, for me the only disappointment is about extra time because I think in the second half the doctor went on the pitch twice and the referee stop to listen to the VAR, you have to give more minutes extra time. In Italy sometimes extra time is seven, eight minutes. "It's important every game to try to win, we tried with all of our strength, created chances to score. The last few times we are not so clinical and despite you shoot for 20 times we don't score and I think we have a reflect on this stat. "[Hazard] was a technical substitution. "Every game is different. For example if you compare this game with last game with Arsenal, Arsenal played this a very different way. They stayed very deep to exploit the counter-attack. The last game was more open and the both teams tried to win the game. They played very well defensively and it was another game today." 10:07PM Arsene Wenger confirms Coquelin is gone We already knew but Wenger has just confirmed that Coquelin is off to Valencia. He's also not sure whether Wilshere has come out of this game unscathed but that Ramsey should be back soon. 10:02PM Arsenal post-match reaction Callum Chambers "Very pleased, I think it's a good result and we were strong at the back. The boys dug in. "You're aware, you can see them talking in their ear so it's one of those, gotta get used to it.  "It was a good defensively display from the whole team and I think that's the best thing to come from tonight. "We've been playing Chelsea a lot recently so we know how they play, they know how we play. I thought tonight we were up for it, up for the fight." Danny Welbeck "I didn't know the VAR was actually for that incident, I knew I got the ball so. I could see him talking in his ear but I knew I got the ball clearly so I wasn't worried. "I know whatever tactics we use when I get on the pitch I give my all. " 9:59PM How the shapes changed during the match Average touch positions (0 min)   9:51PM FULL TIME That's a fair result. The teams cancelled each other out, adjusted tactically during the game and were able to create chances, although none that should have turned into goals. The second leg will be ace. 9:50PM 90 mins +5 Arsenal have done well here. Chelsea have had all the chances: Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  But Arsenal have been a match for everything thrown at them. Chelsea go looking for one last chance. Can they get it? 9:47PM 90 mins +2 Sanchez is all on his own surrounded by five Chelsea players and can't hold on to the ball. Arsenal are looking to just see out the 0-0 here. 9:45PM 90 mins Oooooh but now Martin Atkinson is talking to the VAR. The replay isn't conclusive at all! It looks like Welbeck gets some of the ball but also takes out Fabregas in the area. Is it clear and obvious? We wait. No! It's a corner. Anti-climax but at least it's the right decision. The referees all think it's no penalty, everyone can be happy. 9:43PM 88 mins PENALTY! Is it? The referee says no instantly! There will be no VAR decision again. Fabregas went down at high speed there. Chelsea have a corner. 9:43PM 87 mins I think Sanchez has given the ball away almost every single time he's tried to pass forward since coming on. He's busy though, and is looking to make things happen. Xhaka tries to shoot from 30 yards. No goals occur. Elneny is booked for bringing down Morata in the Arsenal half. Batshuayi comes on to replace the Spaniard. 9:40PM 85 mins Sanchez wins a free-kick from a Willian tackle and wants to take it himself. Hazard is taken off for Bakayoko, which might mean a switch back to the 3-1-4-2 from earlier when Chelsea were dominating. The free-kick goes short to Elneny and is rubbish. Chelsea break until Morata runs the ball out of play for a throw. 9:39PM 83 mins Sanchez tries to press but nobody else has quite as much energy and Chelsea easily bypass it. Fabregas can't reach a forward pass and Arsenal win possession. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   9:36PM 80 mins Kante is booked for bringing down Welbeck and that's where the earlier yellow card he didn't get comes into play. Because that should probably his second! Controversial scenes. Sanchez stands over the free-kick, curls it in and puts it ahead of everyone in the box. Mustafi can't get there and it's a goal kick. 9:35PM 79 mins Sanchez carries the ball at pace and tries to release Welbeck.. but is blocked. Chelsea turn that into an attack and Alonso shoots from 25 yards but is saved. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Marcos Alonso, 77 min) Sanchez is bouncing around shouting at teammates who have the audacity not to pass to him. Welbeck takes the chance to shoot and gets that friendly treatment too. 9:31PM 76 mins Willian has a pop from 25 yards but Ospina saves on the dive, making it look relatively easy, if not slightly over dramatic.  Sanchez is trying to get involved in the game but hasn't quite been able to do so yet. 9:29PM 73 mins That's the Iwobi we're more used to. Arsenal break quickly, Iwobi goes through the middle and then snatches at his shot, watching it dribble towards goal. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alex Iwobi, 72 min) He could be such an amazing player with just a bit of work. 9:26PM 70 mins Calum Chambers is down in pain now. His studs get caught in the grass a little bit as he tries to turn and he goes down visibly uncomfortable. He's not clawing at the air desperately as though it's a real bad one and he's on his feet now anyway. 9:24PM 68 mins Drinkwater off, Willian on. That might mean a change of shape to a 3-4-3 rather than 3-1-4-2. Kante will shift into a central midfield slot beside Fabregas. 9:23PM 67 mins Chelsea are increasing the pressure on Arsenal's backline. Welbeck gives away a free-kick wide right and shockingly, beyond any realm of imagination, it is Lacazette who comes off for Sanchez. Shiver my timbers. The free-kick goes all the way left, Alonso puts it back in and Moses has space! He controls and then thrashes a shot at goal but a block by Mustafi turns it over. This corner is curled in, Ospina is lost in the middle of nowhere - dreadful goalkeeping - and Christensen meets the cross. It's an open goal... but wide. Close for Chelsea!   9:21PM 65 mins Alexis Sanchez is getting ready to come on. I wonder who will be substituted? Let's see... it's nearly the 70th minute and Lacazette hasn't scored which means... it's probably... definitely going to be.... 9:19PM 63 mins Arsenal finally get forward and Maitland-Niles looks up from the left wing and chips a lovely ball over the defenders towards Welbeck in the middle. Chelsea get it away. Average touch positions (61 min) You can see Chelsea's shape very clearly here but Arsenal's is a little confusing.  9:16PM 61 mins Arsenal could do with changing something here. Chelsea are all over them. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  Arsenal getting most players behind the ball now, absorbing the Chelsea attacks before making lame attempts at counter-attacks. Chelsea passing around confidently, going for direct balls towards the wings and Morata. 9:14PM 58 mins Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 56 min) Great save from Ospina! And Morata goes close again just after Wilshere is replaced by Elneny. Mustafi wants a foul for jumping too early and bouncing off the striker, Ospina comes out and Morata tries to squeeze a tight shot underneath the goalie. Goal kick. 9:13PM 56 mins A corner is whipped into the near post, Alonso gets something to it but can only force the shot wide. Wilshere is treated by Arsenal's physio a.k.a Gale from Breaking Bad but is back on the pitch. The shot from Drinkwater came off his dangling leg and could well have jarred the ligaments, the kind of thing that happens in five a side to at least one person every week. It looks like he might have to come off after all. Credit: REUTERS  Hopefully that's just a precaution. 9:10PM 55 mins Arsenal are trying to play out from the back but just cannot do it! The press is really intense and high and defenders are being forced into the six yard box to make a pass. Whenever that happens the high pass needed gives possession back to Chelsea. Chelsea have a corner after Drinkwater batters a ball from close range off Wilshere's ankle. Oh dear. He's down having treatment. 9:08PM 52 mins Booking for Xhaka. I had that sentence ready to paste.  He slides in and takes out Rudiger after another poor bit of play handed Chelsea possession deep in Arsenal's half. Alonso is lining up a 25 yard shot here. 9:07PM 51 mins Chelsea are more on the front foot in this half than they were the first. They're taking the game to Arsenal and look dangerous. They're also pressing higher up the pitch, getting Moses and Alonso further forward.  Kante and Drinkwater keep things ticking over in midfield while Chelsea attack down the flanks. 9:03PM 48 mins Kante is on the hunt for goals here. He's just had another go from inside the box with a difficult narrow angle volley but hits his own player. AND CHRISTENSEN AT THE BACK POST! Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Andreas Christensen, 47 min) So close! He might actually have done better there. Mustafi is beaten as the ball bounces off a head and falls to the Dane but he puts a bit too much on the header and it goes over. 9:01PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! 9:00PM Ross Barkley on the pitch He's waving at the fans, taking selfies, applauding - all of this while carrying a hamstring injury. What a guy. 8:58PM No VAR yet VAR has been utilised a few times so far then but nothing incredible has come of it. No penalties, yellow cards or reversed decisions. That said, at least Martin Atkinson has been sure of all the choices he has made in this game. He'll sleep well tonight.  8:47PM HALF TIME That was entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it. No goals though. I have particularly been interested in Arsenal's strange 3-6-1 formation. Average touch positions (half time) 8:46PM 45 mins Free-kick to Chelsea wide right. It's crossed in and Welbeck clears for a corner. Fabregas gets it short, Hazard crosses backwards to Azpilicueta... who goes for the ball over the top again! Fabregas is in behind the defence and one on one! He heads at goal... but straight at Ospina! Saved!  Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Cesc Fàbregas, 45 min)   8:43PM 43 mins Hazard is quick onto a smart flick from Morata but Ospina watches it and comes off his line to smother the through ball. Maitland-Niles has taken his turn to trick his way past Moses but runs out of room and nearly goes over the advertising boards. 8:39PM 40 mins Good save by Courtois! The shot is parried from Iwobi as the ball drops to him and then Moses looks to have tripped Maitland-Niles in the area! Moses scarpers away... Martin Atkinson gets advice from the VAR... will it be? WILL IT BE?  No. 8:37PM 38 mins Mustafi is way too eager to stop Morata kicking the ball and brings him down for a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Fabregas takes it short for Kante! Surprise! He gets it all wrong and slices with power over the bar. Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (N'Golo Kanté, 37 min)   8:33PM 35 mins Iwobi has been Arsenal's best player tonight. He's working really hard, making clever driving runs through the middle when the chance is on and is covering his defensive positions too. This is instead of the usual sideways passing, refusing to shoot Iwobi that we're used to. Chelsea win a corner after a Maitland-Niles error but Drinkwater hoofs a shot way over the bar. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:31PM 32 mins Credit: AFP Arsenal have another corner. This time Xhaka gets a better deliver and Mustafi puts his head on it. Wide.  8:30PM 31 mins VAR ALERT! Azpilicueta has been shoved to the ground by Chambers while they grapple for a corner. The referee has looked at the evidence, and then done exactly what he would have done if he hadn't seen it. Nothing. Xhaka is getting pelters from the Chelsea fans by his corner and hurriedly takes it, failing to clear the near post. The supporters love it.  8:28PM 28 mins Drinkwater is neat, turns back and plays Kante in, who drives forward and nobody can get close. The ball ends up with Alonso, who teases Bellerin before hitting a low diagonal into the box that Morata very nearly turns at goal. Ospina would have had to do something special to save if Morata had been able to get a touch. Maitland-Niles has been done by Moses again... Chelsea will start probing that weakness from here on. They've figured it out and Moses is enjoying himself. 8:25PM 26 mins Great effort by Moses who cuts inside from the left, goes past Maitland-Niles without even really trying and then thumps a low shot at the near post. Ospina gets down, spills... and recovers. No Chelsea player close enough to stab in the rebound.  Welbeck tries to break past the defence but is easily stopped. Chelsea bring the ball up to halfway and then hit a long pass over the top. 8:22PM 23 mins Credit: AFP  No flag! Lacazette is in! A well timed run and Wilshere finds him, Courtois narrows the angle... and Lacazette blasts it wildly over the bar.  Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   8:20PM 21 mins Xhaka shoots low from the free-kick, about 25 yards out, and doesn't score. Nothing happens actually. Chelsea have the ball. 8:19PM 20 mins A rare bad tackle by Kante should probably result in a yellow card for the Frenchman as Iwobi goes on an even rarer driving run through the middle of the defence. Somehow, and I have no idea why, the referee doesn't give a yellow. That's about as textbook a yellow card example as you'll see - from behind, lunging, denying an attacking opportunity, late, done on purpose... how is it not a yellow? It's a good job they have VAR to review... oh. Oh I see. They haven't bothered. Or - and this is possible - I don't know enough about refereeing to accurately call that as a booking, even after several replays. 8:17PM 18 mins Xhaka applauds his teammates as they put each other under pressure in order to keep possession in their own box before turning defence into attack. Lacazette tries to go round the outside of a defender but it doesn't quite work and Chelsea have a goal kick. 8:15PM 17 mins Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:15PM 16 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES That was the tunnel to pitch walk earlier. Very atmospheric. Like a boxing match, or actually something more similar to WWE. The long ball is on for Chelsea and they keep looking for it. Morata's first touch is absolutely brilliant which turns punted kicks into excellent passes.  8:13PM 13 mins Chelsea are patient with their passing, Arsenal drop off and Azpilicueta goes for one of his now-signature long diagonal passes towards Morata. Instead it's Alonso who attacks and a defender has to get the ball away to prevent the chance. Arsenal win a goal kick. Chelsea are looking for this ball over the top of Arsenal's back three for a runner in the space behind the wing-backs. Hazard nearly gets in at goal. 8:10PM 11 mins Xhaka takes a low corner and it comes all the way to Bellerin on the left (the corner was from the right). Alonso takes care of things, Kante cleans up... or does he? Arsenal regain possession high up the pitch but have to pass backwards. There's a nice tempo to the passing  and Arsenal have come out of their own half. 8:08PM 8 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea aren't quite on their game yet.  This graphic pretty perfectly summarises the opening minutes: Average touch positions (6 min)   8:06PM 6 mins Arsenal passing patiently around their own half but seem rather scared of going past halfway, since that is when Chelsea start trying to tackle them. Ospina is nearly put in trouble by a Mustafi back pass. Nearly. 8:04PM 4 mins Arsene Wenger is watching. Wenger and Jens Lehmann take their seats pic.twitter.com/1UVpRe6Uji— Matt McGeehan (@mattmcgeehan) January 10, 2018  I bet he's finding this in no way annoying. Wenger joins media to watch the game pic.twitter.com/FfyB8eGGUo— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 10, 2018   8:03PM 3 mins Arsenal are definitely a three man defence, Mustafi the central centre-back. Chelsea are looking to press at halfway, drawing Arsenal out from the back to create some space. Arsenal are employing a higher press but aren't doing it very well early on. Iwobi sort of tries, Lacazette drops deep, Welbeck tries a bit... Chelsea get forward and Morata hits the side netting. Already!  Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 2 min)   8:00PM KICK-OFF Here we go, here we go, here we go (repeat x infinity). 7:56PM David Luiz is there Credit: REUTERS Could we see the Brazilian playing tonight? Probably not. And if you read some... let's not call it news, because it isn't, but very tenuous links on pages that are usually proven entirely factually inaccurate have linked Luiz with a move away from west London this transfer window. Barcelona and Arsenal are the touted destinations. Not for me, Clive. 7:50PM Antonio Conte's thoughts "For sure it is a trophy and for this reason we want to reach the final but Arsenal will be the same." 7:44PM There he is Credit: REUTERS The other big talking point this evening, other than the game of football, is VAR. Quite why clubs are required to invest in extremely expensive equipment to review decisions instead of just watching a live feed already available in the grounds doesn't make an awful lot of sense to me. They have monitors in the press box - just give referees one of them! 7:34PM Francis Coquelin Au revoir Francis! The midfielder has signed for Valencia for a £12million transfer fee.  7:15PM Wenger looking forward to VAR "Well we look forward to this because we lost at the weekend. Being out of the FA Cup that we won many times and being in the semi final of the LC it becomes an important game. "[Ozil] has a reoccurrance of his knee problem, he saw a specialist today, we hope it is short term. He came in and couldn't practise." WHY IS SANCHEZ ON THE BENCH, EH? "You cannot explain every decision but that is the decision of the game. He is ready to play a part in this game." Are you excited about VAR helping penalty decisions? "Yes of course because I think sometimes at real pace its hard to detect what is a penalty."  7:06PM Barkley in a Chelsea strip Credit: GETTY IMAGES Well, it's not an actual kit, but the team clothing. Look away Everton fans.  7:02PM Starting lineups Chelsea Team to face Arsenal: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Alonso; Hazard, Morata. #CHEARSpic.twitter.com/jbcvsjsgXG— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 10, 2018 Arsenal NO SANCHEZ! He is on the bench, and has played quite a lot of games... but... �� TEAM NEWS ��#CFCvAFCpic.twitter.com/V7uEqX9Hlh— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 10, 2018   6:37PM Arsene Wenger's seat Credit: PA Credit: PA This is where Arsene Wenger will have to watch today's game, which is in the press box. That's the same bit that lucky journalists get to do 'work' (it is actually work) while taking in the match, which might mean we get some quotes from the man himself. That is unless he's taken some friends with him to hide between. Like Huell from Breaking Bad. 6:22PM Good evening Hello everyone, welcome to our liveblog for the second first leg of this season's League Cup semi-finals. Man City left it late yesterday against Bristol City but may have taken things a little too easy - neither team can afford to approach tonight's match in the same manner. Chelsea just announced a new contract has been agreed with Andreas Christensen and the Dane may well start this evening. Antonio Conte is unlikely to name a weakened first XI for this one even after a hectic festive schedule and more big names will surely play too. Ross Barkley won't make it because he's still recovering from a hamstring injury, Danny Drinkwater might start ahead of Tiemoue Bakayoko. N'Golo Kante has never-ending energy and could play every game if he wanted, probably. Credit: PA Arsenal's injury list, as ever, is long and worrying. Koscielny, Monreal, Giroud, Kolasinac and Ramsey are all out while Mustafi, Xhaka and Ozil are serious doubts. And so Wenger must turn to the youth team and an allegedly naughty Alex Iwobi to try and win this one. Lacazette might finally get 90 minutes, Danny Welbeck may actually get a game and David Ospina will be risked deployed in goal. And yes, Alexis Sanchez will probably play too. Could this be his last game for Arsenal? Will he actually start? We'll find out when the teams are announced at 19:00.

Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0, League Cup semi-final first leg: VAR in the spotlight in London derby stalemate

The ‘VAR’ was used but this was more a ‘Very Average Response’ as Chelsea and Arsenal played out a goalless stalemate in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final. The Video Assistant Referee was called upon, to help adjudicate on two penalties claims, one for each side, and it was correct that neither was given even if the sight of the official Martin Atkinson pressing his finger to his ear added to the fans’ confused frustration. Instead it was an encounter which also left Arsenal supporters wondering if Alexis Sanchez will be at the club for the second leg, in a fortnight’s time, after he started on the substitutes’ bench and with a January move to Manchester City appearing increasingly likely. Arsene Wenger later denied that was the case while confirming that Jack Wilshere, his captain for the night, had suffered yet another injury to add to Arsenal’s worrying roll call of absentees. However the midfielder’s apparent ankle strain, received in blocking a shot, should not keep him out too long. It is hoped. Wenger watched the match from the press box – serving the second game of his three-fixture ban – and was, frankly, more entertaining that what happened out on the pitch, at times. It was a close-by study for reporters on the agonies that a manager goes through as he slammed his desk, kicked the seat in front of him and failed to stifle the odd shout over decisions or his players not being in position even if he was 25 yards away. Was this Alexis Sanchez's final game as an Arsenal player? Credit: CAMERASPORT By the end Arsenal commendably kept Chelsea at bay and there was also a sense that there is too much of a familiarity about these two teams now. This was their fourth meeting of the season, their fourth draw, but this was a far cry from the thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates last week. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte marched onto the pitch to speak to Atkinson at the final whistle – having drawn an imaginary ‘TV’ with his hands, presumably calling for another video referral – but later said he had only questioned an offside call. There were chances. But, crucially, both Chelsea and Arsenal are carrying strikers at present who are suffering from a lack of confidence which was evidenced in the opening two minutes when Alvaro Morata was put through by Eden Hazard only to snatch at the chance and prod the ball into the side-netting. Wenger joined journalists in the press box Credit: REUTERS Then, with Arsenal’s first, and best, opening, superbly fashioned by Wilshere, who was their most positive, influential player, as he lifted the ball through, Alexandre Lacazette had the chance to run at goal but slashed wildly at his shot from just inside the penalty area and struck it high over the cross-bar. He had to do better. Arsenal will, of course, come away the happier and rightly so. It is all to play for but they are at home and after going out of the FA Cup so pitifully last Sunday, away to Nottingham Forest, this was a performance that showed the resolve and determination they so sorely lacked. It was a different XI, also, although Alex Iwobi – accused of partying late too close to the Forest game – surprisingly kept his place while Sanchez, expected to start, was benched before he came on in the second-half but to little effect. Chelsea will feel they created enough opportunities to have won, maybe even to have put this tie to bed, but it is three draws in a row for them in all competitions and further evidence as to why they are looking for another striker during this window with Morata needing a rest, and back-up, and little faith in Michy Batshuayi who also came on as a late substitute and headed over the one opening that came his way. Neither could Conte turn to new signing, Ross Barkley, who was not deemed fit enough. Average touch positions (0 min) Chelsea struck the post in the first-half, from a Victor Moses shot, although goalkeeper David Ospina will have felt he had it covered, and did so again late on when Cesc Fabregas’s cross was deflected onto the outside of the goal-frame. The first penalty claim came when Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beat out Iwobi’s powerful shot, after a mistake by Antonio Rudiger who unwisely tried to pass the ball out of his own area to Danny Drinkwater only for it to be intercepted. The rebound fell to Ainsley Maitland-Niles and he attempted to burst past Moses, going down. There were chants of “VAR” from the Arsenal fans but the penalty appeal was rejected after Atkinson clearly – with his hand to his ear – consulted with Neil Swarbrick, the official back at the television headquarters. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal In the second-half Chelsea laid siege. Marcos Alonso flicked on a cross to Andreas Christensen who headed over, at full stretch, from a couple of yards out. He should have scored. The ball bounced off Morata at close-range from another corner before the striker ran at goal and struck a powerful 25-yard shot that Ospina turned away. Then Morata hit the side-netting again as the goalkeeper rushed out. It continued. Mustafi cut out Moses’ goal-bound shot for a corner, Christensen headed wastefully wide once more, Hazard elected to pass when he had to shoot and then Chelsea questioned whether they should have had a penalty as Fabregas went over under Danny Welbeck’s challenge and again Atkinson delayed, pressing his hand to his ear, but again it was not given. It remains on the edge. 10:20PM Antonio Conte "I think when there are this type of situation you have adapt about this and you have to check but at the same time if you have to check in extra time I think you have to consider this, for me the only disappointment is about extra time because I think in the second half the doctor went on the pitch twice and the referee stop to listen to the VAR, you have to give more minutes extra time. In Italy sometimes extra time is seven, eight minutes. "It's important every game to try to win, we tried with all of our strength, created chances to score. The last few times we are not so clinical and despite you shoot for 20 times we don't score and I think we have a reflect on this stat. "[Hazard] was a technical substitution. "Every game is different. For example if you compare this game with last game with Arsenal, Arsenal played this a very different way. They stayed very deep to exploit the counter-attack. The last game was more open and the both teams tried to win the game. They played very well defensively and it was another game today." 10:07PM Arsene Wenger confirms Coquelin is gone We already knew but Wenger has just confirmed that Coquelin is off to Valencia. He's also not sure whether Wilshere has come out of this game unscathed but that Ramsey should be back soon. 10:02PM Arsenal post-match reaction Callum Chambers "Very pleased, I think it's a good result and we were strong at the back. The boys dug in. "You're aware, you can see them talking in their ear so it's one of those, gotta get used to it.  "It was a good defensively display from the whole team and I think that's the best thing to come from tonight. "We've been playing Chelsea a lot recently so we know how they play, they know how we play. I thought tonight we were up for it, up for the fight." Danny Welbeck "I didn't know the VAR was actually for that incident, I knew I got the ball so. I could see him talking in his ear but I knew I got the ball clearly so I wasn't worried. "I know whatever tactics we use when I get on the pitch I give my all. " 9:59PM How the shapes changed during the match Average touch positions (0 min)   9:51PM FULL TIME That's a fair result. The teams cancelled each other out, adjusted tactically during the game and were able to create chances, although none that should have turned into goals. The second leg will be ace. 9:50PM 90 mins +5 Arsenal have done well here. Chelsea have had all the chances: Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  But Arsenal have been a match for everything thrown at them. Chelsea go looking for one last chance. Can they get it? 9:47PM 90 mins +2 Sanchez is all on his own surrounded by five Chelsea players and can't hold on to the ball. Arsenal are looking to just see out the 0-0 here. 9:45PM 90 mins Oooooh but now Martin Atkinson is talking to the VAR. The replay isn't conclusive at all! It looks like Welbeck gets some of the ball but also takes out Fabregas in the area. Is it clear and obvious? We wait. No! It's a corner. Anti-climax but at least it's the right decision. The referees all think it's no penalty, everyone can be happy. 9:43PM 88 mins PENALTY! Is it? The referee says no instantly! There will be no VAR decision again. Fabregas went down at high speed there. Chelsea have a corner. 9:43PM 87 mins I think Sanchez has given the ball away almost every single time he's tried to pass forward since coming on. He's busy though, and is looking to make things happen. Xhaka tries to shoot from 30 yards. No goals occur. Elneny is booked for bringing down Morata in the Arsenal half. Batshuayi comes on to replace the Spaniard. 9:40PM 85 mins Sanchez wins a free-kick from a Willian tackle and wants to take it himself. Hazard is taken off for Bakayoko, which might mean a switch back to the 3-1-4-2 from earlier when Chelsea were dominating. The free-kick goes short to Elneny and is rubbish. Chelsea break until Morata runs the ball out of play for a throw. 9:39PM 83 mins Sanchez tries to press but nobody else has quite as much energy and Chelsea easily bypass it. Fabregas can't reach a forward pass and Arsenal win possession. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   9:36PM 80 mins Kante is booked for bringing down Welbeck and that's where the earlier yellow card he didn't get comes into play. Because that should probably his second! Controversial scenes. Sanchez stands over the free-kick, curls it in and puts it ahead of everyone in the box. Mustafi can't get there and it's a goal kick. 9:35PM 79 mins Sanchez carries the ball at pace and tries to release Welbeck.. but is blocked. Chelsea turn that into an attack and Alonso shoots from 25 yards but is saved. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Marcos Alonso, 77 min) Sanchez is bouncing around shouting at teammates who have the audacity not to pass to him. Welbeck takes the chance to shoot and gets that friendly treatment too. 9:31PM 76 mins Willian has a pop from 25 yards but Ospina saves on the dive, making it look relatively easy, if not slightly over dramatic.  Sanchez is trying to get involved in the game but hasn't quite been able to do so yet. 9:29PM 73 mins That's the Iwobi we're more used to. Arsenal break quickly, Iwobi goes through the middle and then snatches at his shot, watching it dribble towards goal. Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alex Iwobi, 72 min) He could be such an amazing player with just a bit of work. 9:26PM 70 mins Calum Chambers is down in pain now. His studs get caught in the grass a little bit as he tries to turn and he goes down visibly uncomfortable. He's not clawing at the air desperately as though it's a real bad one and he's on his feet now anyway. 9:24PM 68 mins Drinkwater off, Willian on. That might mean a change of shape to a 3-4-3 rather than 3-1-4-2. Kante will shift into a central midfield slot beside Fabregas. 9:23PM 67 mins Chelsea are increasing the pressure on Arsenal's backline. Welbeck gives away a free-kick wide right and shockingly, beyond any realm of imagination, it is Lacazette who comes off for Sanchez. Shiver my timbers. The free-kick goes all the way left, Alonso puts it back in and Moses has space! He controls and then thrashes a shot at goal but a block by Mustafi turns it over. This corner is curled in, Ospina is lost in the middle of nowhere - dreadful goalkeeping - and Christensen meets the cross. It's an open goal... but wide. Close for Chelsea!   9:21PM 65 mins Alexis Sanchez is getting ready to come on. I wonder who will be substituted? Let's see... it's nearly the 70th minute and Lacazette hasn't scored which means... it's probably... definitely going to be.... 9:19PM 63 mins Arsenal finally get forward and Maitland-Niles looks up from the left wing and chips a lovely ball over the defenders towards Welbeck in the middle. Chelsea get it away. Average touch positions (61 min) You can see Chelsea's shape very clearly here but Arsenal's is a little confusing.  9:16PM 61 mins Arsenal could do with changing something here. Chelsea are all over them. Chelsea vs Arsenal shots on goal  Arsenal getting most players behind the ball now, absorbing the Chelsea attacks before making lame attempts at counter-attacks. Chelsea passing around confidently, going for direct balls towards the wings and Morata. 9:14PM 58 mins Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 56 min) Great save from Ospina! And Morata goes close again just after Wilshere is replaced by Elneny. Mustafi wants a foul for jumping too early and bouncing off the striker, Ospina comes out and Morata tries to squeeze a tight shot underneath the goalie. Goal kick. 9:13PM 56 mins A corner is whipped into the near post, Alonso gets something to it but can only force the shot wide. Wilshere is treated by Arsenal's physio a.k.a Gale from Breaking Bad but is back on the pitch. The shot from Drinkwater came off his dangling leg and could well have jarred the ligaments, the kind of thing that happens in five a side to at least one person every week. It looks like he might have to come off after all. Credit: REUTERS  Hopefully that's just a precaution. 9:10PM 55 mins Arsenal are trying to play out from the back but just cannot do it! The press is really intense and high and defenders are being forced into the six yard box to make a pass. Whenever that happens the high pass needed gives possession back to Chelsea. Chelsea have a corner after Drinkwater batters a ball from close range off Wilshere's ankle. Oh dear. He's down having treatment. 9:08PM 52 mins Booking for Xhaka. I had that sentence ready to paste.  He slides in and takes out Rudiger after another poor bit of play handed Chelsea possession deep in Arsenal's half. Alonso is lining up a 25 yard shot here. 9:07PM 51 mins Chelsea are more on the front foot in this half than they were the first. They're taking the game to Arsenal and look dangerous. They're also pressing higher up the pitch, getting Moses and Alonso further forward.  Kante and Drinkwater keep things ticking over in midfield while Chelsea attack down the flanks. 9:03PM 48 mins Kante is on the hunt for goals here. He's just had another go from inside the box with a difficult narrow angle volley but hits his own player. AND CHRISTENSEN AT THE BACK POST! Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Andreas Christensen, 47 min) So close! He might actually have done better there. Mustafi is beaten as the ball bounces off a head and falls to the Dane but he puts a bit too much on the header and it goes over. 9:01PM KICK-OFF 2 We're back! 9:00PM Ross Barkley on the pitch He's waving at the fans, taking selfies, applauding - all of this while carrying a hamstring injury. What a guy. 8:58PM No VAR yet VAR has been utilised a few times so far then but nothing incredible has come of it. No penalties, yellow cards or reversed decisions. That said, at least Martin Atkinson has been sure of all the choices he has made in this game. He'll sleep well tonight.  8:47PM HALF TIME That was entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it. No goals though. I have particularly been interested in Arsenal's strange 3-6-1 formation. Average touch positions (half time) 8:46PM 45 mins Free-kick to Chelsea wide right. It's crossed in and Welbeck clears for a corner. Fabregas gets it short, Hazard crosses backwards to Azpilicueta... who goes for the ball over the top again! Fabregas is in behind the defence and one on one! He heads at goal... but straight at Ospina! Saved!  Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Cesc Fàbregas, 45 min)   8:43PM 43 mins Hazard is quick onto a smart flick from Morata but Ospina watches it and comes off his line to smother the through ball. Maitland-Niles has taken his turn to trick his way past Moses but runs out of room and nearly goes over the advertising boards. 8:39PM 40 mins Good save by Courtois! The shot is parried from Iwobi as the ball drops to him and then Moses looks to have tripped Maitland-Niles in the area! Moses scarpers away... Martin Atkinson gets advice from the VAR... will it be? WILL IT BE?  No. 8:37PM 38 mins Mustafi is way too eager to stop Morata kicking the ball and brings him down for a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Fabregas takes it short for Kante! Surprise! He gets it all wrong and slices with power over the bar. Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (N'Golo Kanté, 37 min)   8:33PM 35 mins Iwobi has been Arsenal's best player tonight. He's working really hard, making clever driving runs through the middle when the chance is on and is covering his defensive positions too. This is instead of the usual sideways passing, refusing to shoot Iwobi that we're used to. Chelsea win a corner after a Maitland-Niles error but Drinkwater hoofs a shot way over the bar. Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:31PM 32 mins Credit: AFP Arsenal have another corner. This time Xhaka gets a better deliver and Mustafi puts his head on it. Wide.  8:30PM 31 mins VAR ALERT! Azpilicueta has been shoved to the ground by Chambers while they grapple for a corner. The referee has looked at the evidence, and then done exactly what he would have done if he hadn't seen it. Nothing. Xhaka is getting pelters from the Chelsea fans by his corner and hurriedly takes it, failing to clear the near post. The supporters love it.  8:28PM 28 mins Drinkwater is neat, turns back and plays Kante in, who drives forward and nobody can get close. The ball ends up with Alonso, who teases Bellerin before hitting a low diagonal into the box that Morata very nearly turns at goal. Ospina would have had to do something special to save if Morata had been able to get a touch. Maitland-Niles has been done by Moses again... Chelsea will start probing that weakness from here on. They've figured it out and Moses is enjoying himself. 8:25PM 26 mins Great effort by Moses who cuts inside from the left, goes past Maitland-Niles without even really trying and then thumps a low shot at the near post. Ospina gets down, spills... and recovers. No Chelsea player close enough to stab in the rebound.  Welbeck tries to break past the defence but is easily stopped. Chelsea bring the ball up to halfway and then hit a long pass over the top. 8:22PM 23 mins Credit: AFP  No flag! Lacazette is in! A well timed run and Wilshere finds him, Courtois narrows the angle... and Lacazette blasts it wildly over the bar.  Out: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Alexandre Lacazette, 22 min)   8:20PM 21 mins Xhaka shoots low from the free-kick, about 25 yards out, and doesn't score. Nothing happens actually. Chelsea have the ball. 8:19PM 20 mins A rare bad tackle by Kante should probably result in a yellow card for the Frenchman as Iwobi goes on an even rarer driving run through the middle of the defence. Somehow, and I have no idea why, the referee doesn't give a yellow. That's about as textbook a yellow card example as you'll see - from behind, lunging, denying an attacking opportunity, late, done on purpose... how is it not a yellow? It's a good job they have VAR to review... oh. Oh I see. They haven't bothered. Or - and this is possible - I don't know enough about refereeing to accurately call that as a booking, even after several replays. 8:17PM 18 mins Xhaka applauds his teammates as they put each other under pressure in order to keep possession in their own box before turning defence into attack. Lacazette tries to go round the outside of a defender but it doesn't quite work and Chelsea have a goal kick. 8:15PM 17 mins Possession: Chelsea vs Arsenal   8:15PM 16 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES That was the tunnel to pitch walk earlier. Very atmospheric. Like a boxing match, or actually something more similar to WWE. The long ball is on for Chelsea and they keep looking for it. Morata's first touch is absolutely brilliant which turns punted kicks into excellent passes.  8:13PM 13 mins Chelsea are patient with their passing, Arsenal drop off and Azpilicueta goes for one of his now-signature long diagonal passes towards Morata. Instead it's Alonso who attacks and a defender has to get the ball away to prevent the chance. Arsenal win a goal kick. Chelsea are looking for this ball over the top of Arsenal's back three for a runner in the space behind the wing-backs. Hazard nearly gets in at goal. 8:10PM 11 mins Xhaka takes a low corner and it comes all the way to Bellerin on the left (the corner was from the right). Alonso takes care of things, Kante cleans up... or does he? Arsenal regain possession high up the pitch but have to pass backwards. There's a nice tempo to the passing  and Arsenal have come out of their own half. 8:08PM 8 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea aren't quite on their game yet.  This graphic pretty perfectly summarises the opening minutes: Average touch positions (6 min)   8:06PM 6 mins Arsenal passing patiently around their own half but seem rather scared of going past halfway, since that is when Chelsea start trying to tackle them. Ospina is nearly put in trouble by a Mustafi back pass. Nearly. 8:04PM 4 mins Arsene Wenger is watching. Wenger and Jens Lehmann take their seats pic.twitter.com/1UVpRe6Uji— Matt McGeehan (@mattmcgeehan) January 10, 2018  I bet he's finding this in no way annoying. Wenger joins media to watch the game pic.twitter.com/FfyB8eGGUo— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 10, 2018   8:03PM 3 mins Arsenal are definitely a three man defence, Mustafi the central centre-back. Chelsea are looking to press at halfway, drawing Arsenal out from the back to create some space. Arsenal are employing a higher press but aren't doing it very well early on. Iwobi sort of tries, Lacazette drops deep, Welbeck tries a bit... Chelsea get forward and Morata hits the side netting. Already!  Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Arsenal (Álvaro Morata, 2 min)   8:00PM KICK-OFF Here we go, here we go, here we go (repeat x infinity). 7:56PM David Luiz is there Credit: REUTERS Could we see the Brazilian playing tonight? Probably not. And if you read some... let's not call it news, because it isn't, but very tenuous links on pages that are usually proven entirely factually inaccurate have linked Luiz with a move away from west London this transfer window. Barcelona and Arsenal are the touted destinations. Not for me, Clive. 7:50PM Antonio Conte's thoughts "For sure it is a trophy and for this reason we want to reach the final but Arsenal will be the same." 7:44PM There he is Credit: REUTERS The other big talking point this evening, other than the game of football, is VAR. Quite why clubs are required to invest in extremely expensive equipment to review decisions instead of just watching a live feed already available in the grounds doesn't make an awful lot of sense to me. They have monitors in the press box - just give referees one of them! 7:34PM Francis Coquelin Au revoir Francis! The midfielder has signed for Valencia for a £12million transfer fee.  7:15PM Wenger looking forward to VAR "Well we look forward to this because we lost at the weekend. Being out of the FA Cup that we won many times and being in the semi final of the LC it becomes an important game. "[Ozil] has a reoccurrance of his knee problem, he saw a specialist today, we hope it is short term. He came in and couldn't practise." WHY IS SANCHEZ ON THE BENCH, EH? "You cannot explain every decision but that is the decision of the game. He is ready to play a part in this game." Are you excited about VAR helping penalty decisions? "Yes of course because I think sometimes at real pace its hard to detect what is a penalty."  7:06PM Barkley in a Chelsea strip Credit: GETTY IMAGES Well, it's not an actual kit, but the team clothing. Look away Everton fans.  7:02PM Starting lineups Chelsea Team to face Arsenal: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Alonso; Hazard, Morata. #CHEARSpic.twitter.com/jbcvsjsgXG— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 10, 2018 Arsenal NO SANCHEZ! He is on the bench, and has played quite a lot of games... but... �� TEAM NEWS ��#CFCvAFCpic.twitter.com/V7uEqX9Hlh— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 10, 2018   6:37PM Arsene Wenger's seat Credit: PA Credit: PA This is where Arsene Wenger will have to watch today's game, which is in the press box. That's the same bit that lucky journalists get to do 'work' (it is actually work) while taking in the match, which might mean we get some quotes from the man himself. That is unless he's taken some friends with him to hide between. Like Huell from Breaking Bad. 6:22PM Good evening Hello everyone, welcome to our liveblog for the second first leg of this season's League Cup semi-finals. Man City left it late yesterday against Bristol City but may have taken things a little too easy - neither team can afford to approach tonight's match in the same manner. Chelsea just announced a new contract has been agreed with Andreas Christensen and the Dane may well start this evening. Antonio Conte is unlikely to name a weakened first XI for this one even after a hectic festive schedule and more big names will surely play too. Ross Barkley won't make it because he's still recovering from a hamstring injury, Danny Drinkwater might start ahead of Tiemoue Bakayoko. N'Golo Kante has never-ending energy and could play every game if he wanted, probably. Credit: PA Arsenal's injury list, as ever, is long and worrying. Koscielny, Monreal, Giroud, Kolasinac and Ramsey are all out while Mustafi, Xhaka and Ozil are serious doubts. And so Wenger must turn to the youth team and an allegedly naughty Alex Iwobi to try and win this one. Lacazette might finally get 90 minutes, Danny Welbeck may actually get a game and David Ospina will be risked deployed in goal. And yes, Alexis Sanchez will probably play too. Could this be his last game for Arsenal? Will he actually start? We'll find out when the teams are announced at 19:00.

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