The season comes down to the final 90 minutes where Arsenal will be aiming to win their first ever Europa League title as well as qualifying for the Champions League meanwhile one-time UCL champions Chelsea will be there to spoil the party of their London rivals.
UEFA Europa League 2018/19 – Chelsea vs Arsenal
Venue: Baku Olympic Stadium, Azerbaijan
Date: Wednesday, 29 May 2019
Kick-off: 8 PM BST
TV channel: BT Sport
The UEFA Europa League is not just a final but it presents the opportunity to qualify for next season’s Champions League which Arsenal have been dying to qualify for. The Gunners last played in the Champions League in the 2015/16 season where they reached the Round of 16. Speaking of history, Arsenal manager Unai Emery has won the Europa League thrice with Sevilla from 2014-16, so he’s got the experience of performing at the grandest stage.
Meanwhile Chelsea have won the Europa League once in 2013 under Rafa Benitez to complete their trophy cabinet in winning every competition they’ve played in. But there’s one person who wants to win the UEFA Europa League more than Arsenal, more the Unai Emery and that is Maurizio Sarri. Sarri is a modern day football manager who was worked his way up from the lowest tier in Italy. In his journey, Sarri has helped many teams gain promotion to upper tier but Sarri has not won any major trophy yet, which is surprising for a manager of his caliber. Sarri was close to winning the Carabao Cup this season but Chelsea lost to Man City on penalties. So, this might be his chance to win one with the Blues.
With the excitement of the Europa League final, there comes one controversy regarding the venue and that has stopped Henrikh Mkhitaryan from travelling to Baku as there are political tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia which has led to Arsenal questioning UEFA about the security concerns and therefore Mkhitaryan will not be a part of the squad for the final. Arsenal had several meetings with UEFA and Mkhitaryan regarding the player’s participation but there were no guarantees from UEFA. Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has expressed his displeasure towards the match venue and stated that it would have been better if the match was played at a different venue. Sarri also stated his opinions regarding the Mkhitaryan controversy and that it’s disappointing and he would have liked if Henrikh played.
Chelsea have a number of players on the sidelines as key players Antonio Rudiger, Ruben Loftus-cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi all are ruled out with long-term injuries. Rudiger who suffered a knee injury underwent surgery in Rome and now faces a race against time to be fit for the pre-season.
Ruben Loftus-cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi both suffered from an achilles injury, the former is ruled out for almost 5 months while the later is hopeful to be fit for Chelsea’s pre-season tour.
One positive news for the Blues is that N’golo Kante could be fit for the final after the World Cup winner joined the squad in training earlier this week thus recovering from a hamstring injury.
Aaron Ramsey will unfortunately miss the final as the welsh midfielder suffers is sidelined with a thigh injury. However, Ramsey may have the opportunity to win his first European trophy with Arsenal in what will be his last match in the red jersey as the welshman is set to join Juventus in the summer.
Hector Bellerin (knee), Rob Holding (knee) and Danny Welbeck (ankle) all miss out with injuries but Petr Cech could be in contention to play in the final. The news regarding Petr Cech hasn’t gone down well with Arsenal fans after the former Chelsea goalkeeper was linked with a return to his former club just days before the Europa League final.
Chelsea and Arsenal have met a number of times in all competitions in recent years. Arsenal have had the edge in recent years as the Gunners got the better out of Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final, the Community Shield and the EFL cup semi-final last year.
Arsenal are slightly ahead in overall record as the Gunners won 77 times as compared to Chelsea’s 63 wins and both teams shared points on 57 occasions.
The last time both sides met in an official UEFA competition was back when the Roman era started in 2004 where Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-2 on aggregate in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The UEFA Europa League final consists of three of the top 6 goal scorers of the tournament with former Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud leading the race with 10 goals. The world cup winner has scored a goal every 103 minutes for the Blues and it might be shocking to hear that he’s still the second-choice striker for Chelsea behind Gonzalo Higuain.
For Arsenal, not surprising to see the duo of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette making the list as both strikers have been key to Arsenal progressing in the tournament. Aubameyang has scored a goal every 106 minutes and Lacazette scoring a goal every 112 minutes.
For people thinking why is Eden Hazard not on the list, Hazard hasn’t been used a lot by Maurizio Sarri in the Europa League. Mostly Hazard has been brought on in the second half or not even playing at all, as he was rested for the other competitions. But that doesn’t stop Hazard from making an impact in the final and you can bet on Hazard to score anytime right here.
There has been no shortage of goals in the Europa League with the English clubs leading the list. Chelsea have been the top scorers with 32 goals and an impressive 23 goal difference while Arsenal are third with 29 goals and close to Chelsea with a 20 goal difference.
Eventhough Chelsea lead in overall goals, Arsenal have been the top-scorers in the semi-finals with a 7-goal aggregate, scoring four of those away from home.
Chelsea last 5 matches(in all competitions) : D/D/W/W/D
Arsenal last 5 matches(in all competitions) : L/W/D/W/W
A game between two london rivals is never simple. Arsenal have a slight morale advantage heading onto the clash as the Gunners have defeated sides like Napoli and Valencia to progress in the tournament. Chelsea’s first tough competitor came in the semi-finals in the form of Eintracht Frankfurt. The Blues also have injury issues to many key players which could test their squad depth. Meanwhile, Arsenal will miss Aaron Ramsey and Henrikh Mkhitaryan as the later will not travel to Baku due to personal reasons. Arsenal’s hunger for Champions League football might push them the extra mile but Chelsea have also proved their winning mentality on the biggest stage.