Arsenal may have been dumped out of the FA Cup prematurely by Nottingham Forest, but the Gunners will still line out at Wembley this season after battling to a Carabao Cup semi-final victory over Chelsea at the Emirates on Wednesday night.
While the first leg at Stamford Bridge had been a disappointing affair which produced no goals, this return clash was far more open.
The Blues started well and went ahead after just seven minutes, with Pedro’s through-ball dissecting the Gunners’ backline and setting up Eden Hazard, who coolly clipped a finish past David Ospina.
However, the lead would last for just five minutes, with the hosts drawing level courtesy of a rather bizarre ricocheted goal.
Getting his head to a Mesut Ozil corner, Nacho Monreal saw his effort deflect off Marcos Alonso before rebounding a second time, this time in a totally different direction off the head of Antonio Rudiger, before pinging into the Chelsea goal.
Willian was forced off with injury just before half-time, with new man Ross Barkley coming on as a sub, thus making his first competitive appearance since lining out with Everton against Arsenal on the final day of last season,
While Chelsea were the better side in the first period, the Gunners were much improved after the break, and took the lead on 60 minutes.
Granit Xhaka was the scorer, stretching every sinew to flick home after another bit of good fortune, this time when Alexandre Lacazatte’s pass was unwittingly directed into the path of the Swiss midfielder by the unlucky Rudiger.
The Blues pushed for a leveler, although Arsenal should have wrapped the game up, only for Alex Iwobi to shoot tamely at Willy Caballero after a fine break.
The game would end in a 2-1 win, both on the night and on aggregate, which sees Arsene Wenger come out on top against Antonio Conte in a cup game once again.
After winning three FA Cups in the last four seasons, Arsenal now have a chance to add a League Cup, the one English trophy Wenger has never won, to their collection.
However, the small matter of Pep Guardiola and his all-conquering Manchester City now awaits in the final. It should be a cracker.
As for Chelsea, they’ll be hoping the likely arrival of Edin Dzeko can kickstart the rest of their season. The goals need to start coming from somewhere.