Europa League Final: Michael Owen’s View4 min read
The Europa League Final on Wednesday will the first all-London UEFA Final with Arsenal and Chelsea facing-off in Azerbaijan. Brand Ambassador Michael Owen shared his thoughts exclusively with BetVictor on the midweek action and believes Blue will be the colour in Baku.
Arsenal v Chelsea
The 198th London derby between Arsenal and Chelsea will be played in Baku 2,864 miles from the capital city tomorrow night. European glory is the prize for the Blues while a place in the Champions League next term is the added motivation for the Gunners as they go in search of their first European Trophy since 1994.
Azerbaijan will become the 24th different country to host a major European final midweek although the logistics and cost of getting to Baku means that there will only be about 3,000 fans from both clubs in the stadium. UEFA are confident that the ground will be full on Wednesday evening, however, with local fans reported to have picked up the tickets returned from the participating clubs. I wonder if the atmosphere in the stadium will be more akin to a pre-season friendly played in the Far East or in the States? Let’s hope not.
On the pitch and it will be fascinating to see if the Gunners thrive with the carrot of Champions League football next term if they prevail? Unai Emery is looking to add a fourth Europa League to his CV following a hat-trick of wins when in charge of Seville from 2014 to/16, but I just favour Chelsea in what is increasingly likely to be the final game of the excellent Stamford Bridge career of Eden Hazard. It has been a magnificent season for the Premier League, but Hazard will be sorely missed if, as expected, he moves to the Spanish capital this summer.
Arsenal’s last eight goals in the competition have been shared by Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang and Alexandre Lacazette and Emery – after much soul-searching and debate – has found a successful system to accommodate both stable stars in his starting XI. The Gunners have won their last five games in the competition and any side who win home and away against Napoli in the quarter-final and Valencia in the semi-final deserve their place in the final.
Europa League final to be played in front of thousands of empty seats with sponsors set to return tickets after citing difficulties travelling to Baku https://t.co/j7Zusuwnen pic.twitter.com/lYGGTMOLwo
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) May 22, 2019
Chelsea have won four of their five European Finals with their only loss to Manchester United – on penalties – in the Champions League Final in Moscow of 2008. Only two Italians have managed an English side in a major European Final. Both – Gianluca Vialli in 1998 Cup Winners’ Cup Final and Roberto di Matteo in the 2012 Champions League Final – managed Chelsea and both were successful.
Maurizio Sarri must do without Antonio Rudiger, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi in Azerbaijan, but they do have Hazard. I feel the brilliant Belgian will be the difference between the sides in Baku.
Chelsea to win
Chelsea to win and both teams to score
Eden Hazard to score at anytime