Europa League Final Preview: Arsenal v Chelsea6 min read
With the Europa League final taking place next week, Arsenal and Chelsea will be preparing diligently for a game that promises so much and has a larger meaning for both sides and managers to finish their seasons.
Arsenal, under manager Unai Emery, have had a mixed first year. While reaching the European final has been a welcome surprise, their form in the Premier League has largely been inconsistent having missed out on a top four finish and achieving Champions League qualification for next season.
Chelsea, on the other hand, secured third place and will be registered in the group stages of Europe’s top-tier competition next season. However, with plenty of speculation over the future of Maurizio Sarri, the Italian coach will know that this game is as important as they come with his future hanging in the balance.
Both teams have so much to play for and this all-English final looks set to burst into life come next Wednesday evening in the highly controversial Baku Olympic Stadium.
Emery’s European Experience
In the former Sevilla coach, the Gunners have a master tactician in the Europa League competition. Having won three competitions on the bounce with his former Spanish side, Emery has an outstanding reputation when it comes to delivering on the night.
Arsenal, however, do not possess the best fortune in European finals. They have lost four of their last five European finals, last tasting success continentally in 1994 with the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
With Emery at the helm, hopes are starting to grow once more, even if the rebuilding process is still very much in the works. The Gunners have flown through their route to the final and now stand in Chelsea’s way – a bitter rival that will test their temperament as well as their tactical awareness.
With so much speculation arising over the last few months, Sarri will have an added sprinkling of motivation to go and win his first major trophy as a football manager.
While he has always put his philosophy before winning titles, given the constant stream of criticism that has come his way this season, the Italian will hope his first Cup is just around the corner. Whether he leaves or not this summer, Sarri will be remembered for winning Chelsea another European trophy should he be triumphant against the Gunners.
There has been plenty of discussion regarding Sarri and Juventus, with Massimiliano Allegri walking out at the end of the season, and so this game might just have extra incentives for the Italian.
The Blues have yet to lose a Europa League fixture since being crowned champions in 2013 and so there is extra pressure for Sarri to go on an extend this remarkable run in Europe’s secondary competition.
One Night Takes It All
With Arsenal’s desperate need of Champions League football next season in order to be competitive in the transfer market, Emery’s stakes are much higher than those for Sarri.
Either way, it looks as if the Italian might be edging towards the exit door no matter the outcome of this night in Baku, although it is fair to say that Sarri is also extremely hungry to get his hands on a trophy.
Form is thrown out of the window when it comes to a final, especially in one which happens weeks after the final day of the Premier League season. Chelsea, on paper, look to have a stronger side available, but the strike duo of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette has been firing on all cylinders this season.
Aubameyang on his partnership with Lacazette:
“We share the same view of football. We joke and like to laugh. On the pitch all it takes is a look, it’s natural.
One will find the other and the other will do the same just as much.” ? pic.twitter.com/PiiEUBQ2mN
— GoonerViews (@GoonerViews) May 21, 2019
If the Gunners can limit their mistakes and self-destruction button they usually press throughout a match, they have a genuine chance of upsetting the odds of lifting the trophy and returning to the Champions League.
It is likely that this will be Eden Hazard’s last game in blue before he joins Real Madrid this summer, so a successful departing gift to the fans would soften the blow.
This game promises to have drama associated with it in one shape or another, so be prepared for the fireworks to set off.