Why Arsenal and Chelsea's cup exits are good & bad for everyone else
Tuesday’s Capital One Cup saw two unlikely results with two of the favourites dumped out of the competition in the fourth round. Jose Mourinho’s worrying run of form continues, while Arsene Wenger may think next time about throwing the kids in at the deep end.
The Arsenal manager was punished for fielding a relatively inexperienced side against Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday as the Owls prevailed 3-0 to send the Hillsborough faithful home delighted.
Chelsea boss Mourinho did not suffer the same ignominy that was felt by his long term rival, but the Blues still existed the competition after losing on penalties to Stoke City, as Jack Butland saved Eden Hazard’s spot kick.
For the rest of the Premier League looking on, there will be both positives and negatives to these London powerhouses being dumped out of the competition.
With these two perennial challengers no longer in contention for glory and joining Tottenham Hotspur in being knocked out, there is a great opportunity for other clubs to potentially win a piece of silverware.
For the likes of Everton, Southampton, Liverpool and last year’s beaten FA Cup finalists Aston Villa, the sight of three of the Premier League’s top-six clubs from the 2014-15 season being eliminated presents a real opportunity.
Although the Premier League will be every competing club’s priority, whether they are pushing for the top-four or are involved in a relegation scrap, progression in a cup competition is a worthwhile and morale-boosting plus.
With both the Gunners and the Blues also competing in the Champions League and FA Cup fixtures set to be played around the turn of the year, progression into the latter stages of the Capital One Cup can be an unwelcome distraction.
Tottenham made it to the final of the Capital One Cup last season, but in doing so spread themselves too thin to make their ultimate goal of finishing in the Premier League’s top four.
It was around the time of their cup final defeat to Chelsea, which coincided with Europa League clashes against Fiorentina and a congested fixture list that the North London club started to slide down the table.
For Arsenal, maintaining their recent good league form and a place in the ongoing title race will be their priority, with crucial games to play in the Champions League.
Chelsea meanwhile have the real possibility of finishing outside the top four as something to contend with as the Premier League champions have lost five domestic games so far in 2015-16.
Although defeat in any competition is less than ideal, Mourinho and Wenger may well see the positives of a less congested fixture list and the opportunity to concentrate on more important things to come.