UEFA Europa League Final
Wednesday 29th May 2019
Kick off at 8pm BST
Venue: Baku Olympic Stadium
Not only is the Europa League Final an all English final but it is an all London Final as Chelsea and Arsenal, two great Premier League teams will come head to head in what will be their most significant fixture for quite some time.
For Chelsea, manager Maurizio Sarri has been under pressure from the moment The Blues lost their first game of the season against Tottenham in November. But on reflection Sarri has had a good debut season. He guided the club into a 3rd place finish (which means that even if they lose this final they will still qualify for the Champions League). They reached the Carabao Cup Final only losing on penalties to Manchester City and have of course reached the Europa League Final.
Chelsea have had a good decade in European football which has seen the club win the Champions League in 2012, still the last English club to do so, though of course that will be broken this year with Tottenham and Liverpool contesting that. However The Blues also won the Europa League in 2013 establishing their hold as one of the best teams in England.
That hold is recent of course because before 2005 Arsenal were the bigger team and The Gunners have the opportunity to stake their claim on Wednesday evening. Perhaps Arsenal’s biggest asset isn’t actually in the starting 11 but on the bench in the form of their manager Unai Emery. The Spanaird has won the Europa League 3 times, and consecutively as manager of Sevilla between 2014-16. It was this success which seduced the likes of PSG to take Emery on.
The bottom line is that Emery is a cup specialist and Arsenal are lucky to have him. This season both The Gunners and Chelsea have had similar tales which is also reflected in the fact that both clubs have had new managers in the dug out. Sarri has done better on paper although that would be reversed if Arsenal won this match.
Arsenal are going in the right direction if we were to compare this season to Arsene Wenger’s last season. They collected more points and reached the final of the Europa League when last season Wenger’s team were knocked out at the semi-final stage. But this is a huge game not just for the silverware but to qualify for next seasons Champions League. If Arsenal lose the final it will come as a double blow, as they finished 5th in the league and so would not be playing Champions League football next season.
While Chelsea have won 2 European trophies in the last 7 years, Arsenal have not won in Europe in 25 years when they won the now discontinued UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994. Since then The Gunners have returned to a European final 3 more times and lost on each occasion.
Chelsea: N’Golo Kante has suffered a severe blow in training, twisting his ankle and whilst he hasn’t been 100% confirmed to miss the match it looks as if he will. Antonio Rudiger, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi will all miss the final
Arsenal: Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss the final as there have been worries over the players safety playing in Baku. Danny Welbeck, Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin and Denis Suarez will all miss the final
Chelsea vs Arsenal Head to Head:
The teams last met in January at The Emirates where Arsenal won 2-0.
In the reverse fixture earlier in the season Chelsea won 3-2.
In the last 10 league games Arsenal have won just twice.
60% of their recent games have ended in under 2.5 goals.
Chelsea vs Arsenal Prediction:
It’s possible we will see a three man lead attack for Chelsea revolving around Eden Hazard who could be playing his last game for the club. With some injuries affecting the team we could see Gonzalo Higuain and Pedro start the game. At the same time one would have to question if Olivier Giroud would be the better pick. The French forward scores goals but not prolifically, however has that knack of drawing players away from the game and holding up the ball well.
Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho should be in midfield but Sarri will have a headache, does he go for an attacking side or hold back? Much of the defence will be unchanged and will be led by David Luiz, who recongnised this week that Arsenal’s main danger will be Emery.
As for Arsenal they have been rocked a little with politics ahead of the game and even some calls for the club to boycott the game ahead of Henrikh Mkhitaryan having to miss the game over safety concerns. Certainly UEFA’s decision to host the final in Baku with unrest in Azerbaijan seems short sighted.
Arsenal will be cautious up to a point but have many attacking options up front with Pierre- Emerick Aubameyang leading the way. While Arsenal have suffered lately against Chelsea what is interesting is that The Gunners have managed to score 4 goals against Chelsea in the last two games. Nothing suggests otherwise that they will not find goals in Baku.
Chelsea vs Arsenal Betting Tips:
Asian handicap (0.0 Arsenal) at 2.15
Anytime goalscorer: Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang at 2.50