Arsenal endured a difficult opening to the their Carabao Cup semi-final second leg with Chelsea at the Emirates Wednesday evening, but came from behind to beat their London rivals 2-1, securing a place in the Wembley final against Manchester City next month.
Carelessness and poor defending allowed Eden Hazard to put the visitors ahead in the 7th minute, before Nacho Monreal's header deflected off two Chelsea players and in for the equaliser five minutes later.
Granit Xhaka scored what turned out to be the winner after an hour, and if the first period was dominated by Chelsea, Arsenal were far superior in the second. Wenger's men found some defensive solidity, Antonio Conte's men had little to offer from an attacking point of view and in the end the Gunners deserved their win.
The fact they turned it around in the second half showed there's an adaptability to the squad of players Wenger has assembled. And having lost a star in Alexis Sanchez, it was important to show they could cope without him. For confidence that was a real bonus, and getting to a cup final is a positive in itself, giving them the chance of silverware next month.
The way Arsenal started the game could have proved costly, with careless passing and poor decision making putting them under unnecessary pressure.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Wenger showed tactical flexibility, shifting to a back three in the second half, and his team were on top throughout.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David Ospina, 6 -- Really didn't have a lot to do. He was left exposed for the goal and could do little about it, but otherwise mostly untroubled.
DF Hector Bellerin, 7 -- Dangerous down the right-hand side and kept his ongoing enemy Marcos Alonso quiet from an attacking perspective. Really beginning to find some form again.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 7 -- Positionally very aware, making an eye-catching 11 clearances. He helped keep things organised at the back after a dodgy start.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 7 -- Enjoyed getting forward, overlapped with Bellerin down the right at times and defended well.
DF Nacho Monreal, 8 -- The Gunners standout player on the night, involved heavily in the first goal and was outstanding defensively -- especially in the second period. He remains an important part of the team, whether it's a back three or back four.
MF Granit Xhaka, 7 -- He had some difficult moments, but got what proved to be the winner, poking home like a classic penalty-box poacher. Seemed to be instructed to get forward more than usual.
MF Jack Wilshere, 7 -- He was so secure in possession, completing 93 percent of his passes, and always looked to drive the team forward.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 7 -- He's never going to be the most expansive player, but he showed his usefulness as he slotted into a back three in the second half. So rarely gives the ball away.
FW Alex Iwobi, 7 -- Defensively his best game for a long time, making five tackles as kept Victor Moses in check. He can still do more in the final third.
FW Mesut Ozil, 8 -- Passed with an accuracy of 95 percent. Chelsea resorted to pushing him, pulling him and doing whatever they could to halt his progress. His quality on the ball is almost unparalleled.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 7 -- Very effective in the second period, but the lack of options on the bench showed why the club should step up their pursuit of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. It was his cross that led to Xhaka's winner via a deflection.
MF Aaron Ramsey, NR -- Brought on late to add some fresh legs as Arsenal defended their slender lead.
MF Sead Kolasinac, NR -- Like Ramsey, he added some strength in the final few minutes.