An absolutely huge night in Baku sees Arsenal play Chelsea in an all English Europa League final for the first time since 1972, regardless of the result it will be a huge night for the English game and will undoubtedly showcase the talent that the Premier League has been offering this season.
Arsenal’s recent form will send worries across to South West London with a very convincing aggregate win over Valencia by 7-3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a hattrick in the second leg confirming their place in their 3rd ever major European final.
Unfortunately for the Gunners, Henrik Mkhitaryan won’t be able to travel due to the politics between his nation (Armenia) and the location of the final (Azerbaijan), but he’s mainly been a squad player this season and not a part of the real core of the side.
Chelsea arrive in Baku on the back of a 3rd place Premier League finish and a penalty shootout win over Frankfurt where in regular time, they looked shaky. Chelsea dominated the first leg but seemed to struggle at Stamford Bridge with Frankfurt having plenty of chances to steal the tie.
Eden Hazard has barely featured in the EL this season only completing 1 of the 14 possible games but amongst the current speculation regarding his future it’s a definite that he will play the full fixture tonight. The Belgian almost looks certain to join Real Madrid this summer and has stated in interviews that winning the Europa League would be the “perfect farewell”.
Olivier Giroud is currently joint top goal scorer in the competition with 10 goals and one goal will almost guarantee the golden boot. Willian has 7 assists and one more will put him top of the assists chart for the competition, giving Chelsea a clean sweep on the individual awards.
N’Golo Kante was seen training yesterday having a long discussion with the Chelsea doctors, he’s currently nursing a knee injury that has deemed him a doubt for the final and after seeing that footage it’s raising even more of a concern. Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi are both going to be long term absentees, both suffering ACL injuries in recent months. Arsenal, with exception of Mkhitaryan haven’t had any new injuries develop and will be going into the game with their solid first 11 readied.
A big worry for Chelsea will be that they haven’t beaten Arsenal in a competitive final in their last 3 attempts, with 2 of them going to penalties. The 2017 Community Shield, 2017 FA Cup Final and the 2015 Community Shield all went to Arsenal and the Gunners do have a habit of making things difficult for Chelsea.
An exciting game for an Englishman or a neutral but for Chelsea fans there could be only tears. Arsenal look prepared with complete momentum and shockingly are the outsiders at roughly 2/1, I’m a player at those odds.