Juan Mata’s first goal of the season sealed Chelsea’s safe passage through to the Capital One Cup quarter-finals at the expense of Arsenal, who were beaten 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium.
A defensive error from Carl Jenkinson allowed Cesar Azpilicueta to sneak in an opening goal after 25 minutes as the Blues dominated the game.
Mata stepped up in the second half with a stunning strike to confirm the victory and send a message to his manager Jose Mourinho about his talent.
Both teams made many changes from their Premier League elevens, but for Mata, it was just his sixth start of the season after seemingly falling out of favour under new boss Mourinho. Arsenal started with Nicolas Bendtner leading the attack, but a poor performance from the Dane meant Chelsea controlled the game.
The Blues did all the early running and could have been in front through Kevin De Bruyne’s curling effort, but Lukasz Fabianksi made a good diving save to keep it out. Unfortunately for the Polish goalkeeper, he could do nothing about the opener as Azpilicueta grabbed his first ever Chelsea goal. Jenkinson should have comfortably dealt with the loose ball but his weak header back towards Fabianski was leapt on by Chelsea’s right-back and the Spanish international poked past the goalkeeper to the delight of the travelling fans in the stadium.
Arsenal had to improve after falling behind and did so, with Nacho Monreal going close to equalising in the 29th minute. The left-back pounced upon a loose ball and flashed a shot across the goal from 25 yards, but Mark Schwarzer could watch comfortably as the ball fizzed wide of his far post. In the second half, Aaron Ramsey also drilled a low shot wide, but a classy goal would kill off any chance of a comeback.
Mata picked up the ball on the edge of the box and rifled a shot towards the top corner in the 66th minute. The ball flew past Fabianksi who stood no chance and bulged into roof of the net. It was a superb goal from the Spaniard and a telling reminder to Mourinho of how good the attacking midfielder can be.