Arsene Wenger insists no reason to panic despite defeat to Chelsea in League Cup
Arsenal suffer second successive home defeat in lacklustre display
Arsene Wenger insists there is no reason to panic after Arsenal slumped to a lacklustre 2-0 defeat against Chelsea in the League Cup fourth round.
Wenger’s side suffered a second successive home defeat as the Blues cruised into the last eight thanks to goals from Cesar Azpilicueta and Juan Mata.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Wenger, who had seen his team defeated by Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates Stadium seven days previously in their Champions League group game.
Inevitably the two results will be seen as proof that Arsenal are still lacking the quality to end their eight-year trophy drought despite their impressive climb to the top of the Premier League table.
But, given that both Arsenal and Chelsea made a host of changes for the tie, Wenger has no intention of rushing to condemn his players as also-rans.
“Lets not go too quick to a conclusion. If you take the points we have made since January we have got more than anybody else,” Wenger said.
“After losing the first game of the season against Aston Villa people said we were relegated and there would be a revolution, but now we are in a strong position in the league.
“It’s true that it is difficult to swallow what has happened in the last two weeks, but the mistakes are so obvious that they can be corrected and we have to do that.”
With Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud only introduced in the second half, Arsenal sorely lacked a cutting edge, especially with Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner delivering a poor performance in a rare start.
Yet Wenger maintained he was right to rotate his team to keep the key players fresh for the weekend’s league clash against Liverpool.
“It was a very tight game that was decided on one or two mistakes,” he said. “You can’t play always with the same players, you have to rotate at some stage.
“We have to respond well on Saturday against Liverpool. They are in a good position in the league, but we have to turn this around. You know it is vital to win the big games.”
While Wenger looks for an immediate response from his team, Chelsea are riding the crest of a wave at present.
Just two days after defeating title rivals Manchester City, Jose Mourinho’s men inflicted another psychological blow on one of their main rivals.
Mourinho made 10 changes to the team that beat City, but was still able to name a strong starting line-up featuring the likes of Mata, Samuel Eto’o, David Luiz and Willian and the gulf in class between Chelsea’s stand-ins and Arsenal’s shadow squad was clear to see.
Mata was the catalyst as he pulled in the strings in midfield with his clever passing before clinching the win with a superb 66th minute strike from the edge of the penalty area.
The Spaniard has struggled to break into Mourinho’s team, but Blues assistant boss Steve Holland made it clear Mata will get his share of game time if he keeps performing like that.
“We have seen that before from Mata, so it’s not a surprise. It was another fantastic moment for him,” Holland said.
“If you look back at the fixtures he started more than his fair share of the big games.
“Jose, when he addressed the team before kick-off, asked to be given selection problems for the weekend.
“He wants headaches and wants everyone playing well when they get a chance. You have to say they responded.”
Holland believes Chelsea are gradually improving after a slow start to Mourinho’s second spell in charge and he added: “The bottom line is two results like this give you confidence.
“It’s taken a bit of time in the early weeks but Jose’s principles of play have been hammered home in training and there’s been signs in the last few weeks that it’s coming through.”