Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer kept his second clean sheet in as many matches for Chelsea in a 2-0 League Cup win over Arsenal on Wednesday morning (AEDT).
Schwarzer, who moved to Jose Mourinho’s side in the off-season as Petr Cech’s deputy, was solid in goals as his team won the fourth-round fixture through goals from Cesar Azpilicueta and Juan Mata.
The 41-year-old keeper’s only previous start for the Blues was in the previous round of the cup against Swindon Town.
Mata’s first club goal of the season came after Chelsea defender Azpilicueta opened the scoring before the break.
Chelsea, twice League Cup winners under Mourinho, were always in control despite 10 changes to the team that beat Manchester City 2-1 on Sunday.
Mourinho had been incensed that Chelsea were forced to play twice in just three days.
He insisted he would send out a weakened team in protest and was true to his word as only Gary Cahill retained his place, although the strength of Chelsea’s squad was clear to see as the likes of Mata, Willian and Samuel Eto’o hardly constituted a significant drop in class.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger made eight changes to his side and his stand-ins can have no complaints if they go back to the bench after a disjointed performance.
As Arsenal struggled to find any rhythm, it wasn’t a surprise the opening goal in the 25th minute came from a miscue in the Gunners rearguard.
After clearing a corner, Chelsea broke at speed with Eto’o leading the charge before Aaron Ramsey’s challenge on Michael Essien sent the ball looping towards the edge of the Arsenal penalty area.
Carl Jenkinson and Jack Wilshere hesitated over who should clear and when Jenkinson finally took action his attempt to head back to Lukasz Fabianski lacked both the power and direction to reach the Gunners goalkeeper.
Azpilicueta took full advantage of the gift, lunging in bravely to poke the ball past Fabianski into the far corner.
Mata put the game beyond Arsenal with a brilliant strike in the 66th minute.
Meanwhile, Mexico striker Javier Hernandez scored twice as Manchester United reached the League Cup quarter-finals with a 4-0 victory over Norwich City at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Fulham were the only top-flight casualties on the night, going down 4-3 in a gripping game at second-tier Leicester City.
Stoke City required penalties to overcome valiant 2011 winners Birmingham City, who twice came from behind to force a 4-4 draw despite the dismissal of midfielder Wade Elliott in first-half stoppage time.
West Ham United downed Championship leaders Burnley 2-0.