Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho will step back into battle for the first time in six years on Tuesday as both managers look to make an early statement of intent in a season that could yet end with Arsenal and Chelsea fighting to the wire for the Premier League title. It may be a meeting in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup, a competition that will feature at the bottom of the pile for both managers, but, with Wenger and Mourinho in opposite dugouts, there is likely to be no little intensity.
During Mourinho’s first spell in charge at Stamford Bridge the two had a fierce and sometimes unsavory rivalry. It encompassed the Portuguese famously describing Wenger as a “voyeur” for his supposed preoccupation with events at Chelsea, while the Arsenal manager rallied against the whole ethos of his opposite number and his club, especially after that tapping up and subsequent transfer of Ashley Cole to Stamford Bridge. In the buildup to the League Cup clash at the Emirates, Wenger has tried to play down the tensions.
"What the Premier League wants first is the quality of the games and his teams give you always a tough game,” he said, according to Arsenal.com. “That is what you want.
"With all competitors there are ups and downs. You could see that again yesterday between [Manuel] Pellegrini and Mourinho, because we put our whole heart into every single game. Sometimes we go overboard and that is part of the job. With the distance after, it always settles."
It is a meeting between the current top two in the Premier League, with Chelsea lying two points behind their London rivals. Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday came at a cost, however, with their two central midfielders, Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta, being lost to injury and suspension, respectively. Although, whether either would have featured anyway on Tuesday is debatable. Wenger looks likely to select largely from players who weren’t involved at the weekend. Youngsters Isaac Hayden, Ryo Miyaichi and Serge Gnabry are set to be involved.
Chelsea’s changes could be even more drastic, having had just over 48 hours to recover from beating Manchester City 2-1 on Sunday. Mourinho has backtracked on his earlier claim that he would feature an under-21 development side, but none of the players who started against City are likely to feature.
D: Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Monreal
M: Ramsey, Wilshere
Gnabry, Rosicky, Miyaichi
D: Azpilicueta, Kalas, Luiz, Bertrand
M: Essien, Mikel
De Bruyne, Mata, Willian
Where to watch: The Capital One Cup fourth round tie will kick off at 3.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport, with a live stream available on beIN Sport Play.