Arsene Wenger may have been keen to play down the wider significance of Chelsea’s comfortable win over Arsenal in the Capital One Cup, but there was plenty in the match to suggest that the Gunners may have some way to go to be genuine title-challengers still.
Jose Mourinho’s men are now 2/1 favourites in bwin’s Premier League title betting, with the north London table-toppers three points longer at 5/1.
Chelsea made 10 changes to the starting line-up that had faced Manchester City against Arsenal.
Of the eleven that began their early-season heavyweight clash with the 2011/12 champions only Gary Cahill made the teamsheet at the Emirates, with Ramires given 21 minutes towards the end.
Despite this, the side played with a committed intensity and a surprisingly high amount of coherence, vouching for the fact that there are not just absolutely no passengers in Mourinho’s squad, but at least two top-quality players in every position.
By contrast Arsenal called upon six first-teamers during the 90 minutes.
Laurent Koscielny, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla all started the loss against Chelsea’s second string and they were joined by substitutes Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud as the Gunners chased the game.
The use of so many men that Arsene Wenger would rather preserve looks ominous from a squad depth perspective.
However, perhaps more troublingly for Gooners with title aspirations a side including six men who started against Crystal Palace in the Premier League came off second best against Chelsea B.
Arsene Wenger’s men failed to record a single win against the sides that finished above them last term.
The Gunners gleaned a mere two points of a possible 18 from their Premier League dealings with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea in 2012/13, finishing eight points adrift of third-placed Chelsea in the top-four mini league.
City took that rhetorical title from United, who pipped Chelsea to the silver medal on goal difference, suggesting that triumvirate were operating on a different level to Arsenal last season.
As such a home League Cup loss to Chelsea in what was their first meeting with a member of last season’s top three of the new campaign extends that miserable run and leaves the north London club still to prove they can better the biggest of the big boys.