The now Sanchez-less Gunners reached the Carabao Cup final after coming from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1 in the second leg of their semi-final at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.
By SportBrief Reporter
The Gunners were impressive in defence as they secured a goalless draw in the first leg at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, but were broken down early on as Eden Hazard put Chelsea ahead after seven minutes.
Each side made just a single change. David Ospina started in goal for Arsenal and Pedro came in ahead of Michy Batshuayi for Chelsea. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was cup-tied for the Gunners.
They recovered well, however, and Antonio Rudiger’s unfortunate own goal levelled the game before Granit Xhaka netted the winner on the hour mark to prove there is life after Sanchez departure. This is the second consecutive match the Gunners have won without the Chilean forward having recorded an impressive 4-1 win over Crystal Palace over the weekend.
The victory over Chelsea set up a Wembley date with Manchester City on Sunday, February 25.
Chelsea started the brighter and had the ball in the back of the net in the fifth minute as Pedro powered a header in from 12 yards, only for his effort to be correctly ruled out for offside.
But Arsene Wenger’s side did not heed the warning signs and Pedro turned provider for their opener as he fed Hazard through for the Belgian to calmly finish.
Arsenal pulled level shortly afterwards in fortuitous fashion as Nacho Monreal’s header from a corner cannoned off Marcos Alonso and then Rudiger before beating the helpless Willy Caballero in goal.
Chelsea then suffered a blow as Willian went off injured, allowing Ross Barkley to make his debut for the club, but there were relatively few chances throughout the rest of the half for either side.
Arsenal improved after the break and they took the lead, again in slightly lucky circumstances, on the hour. Rudiger was once more the unfortunate party as Alexandre Lacazette’s hopeful cross took a hefty deflection off the defender, and the ball fell perfectly for Xhaka to poke home from six yards.
Alex Iwobi had a glorious chance to seal the win after 76 minutes as Mesut Ozil found him clean through after a flowing Arsenal move, but he could only fire straight at Caballero from just inside the box.
But the miss didn’t cost the Gunners as they held on for victory.
Although Arsenal are proving they can get the job done without the Chilean forward, it is worth noting that Chelsea were missing some of their key players through injury and therefore it may be a bit too early to suggest that the Gunners will be fine for the rest of the season without Sanchez.