Chelsea vs Arsenal preview | Latest team news | Expected line-ups | Predicted score
This is our match preview ahead of the Europa League final as Arsenal take on Chelsea at the Olympic Stadium in Baku this evening.
Arsenal take on Premier League rivals Chelsea in the Europa League final at the Olympic Stadium in Baku this evening.
The game is arguably of greater importance for Arsenal as not only is this a chance to end their 25-year wait for a European trophy but victory tonight would secure their place in the Champions League next season.
Arsenal narrowly missed out on the top four by just one point this season following a disastrous end to the campaign that saw them take just one point from games against Crystal Palace, Wolves, Leicester and Brighton.
However, the Gunners have a second opportunity to return to Europe’s elite competition by lifting the trophy in Azerbaijan tonight and Unai Emery is an expert in the Europa League having won it three times during his time with Sevilla.
Chelsea are already assured of a place in the Champions League next season after finishing third in the league but the pressure is still firmly on Maurizio Sarri’s shoulders amid speculation he may leave Stamford Bridge this summer.
The Italian has been strongly linked with the vacant Juventus job and we could still see Sarri leave Chelsea even if he beats Arsenal in tonight’s final to secure his first major trophy as a manager.
Chelsea head into the game as the 1/3 favourites with the bookmakers to lift the trophy. Those betting on the game can visit http://126.96.36.199/ for the casino experience and get the best odds for the game. Arsenal are 4/1 which looks very tempting considering Emery’s record in Europe while the draw is on offer at 5/1.
Arsenal will be without Henrikh Mkhitaryan as he hasn’t travelled to Baku due to fears over his safety amid on-going tension between Armenian and Azerbaijan. Aaron Ramsey also misses out due to injury so he’s out along with Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding.
However, Danny Welbeck is back in contention after recovering from a broken ankle and he could make his final appearance for Arsenal before leaving when his contract expires in the summer.
Emery has hinted he’s ready to stick with Petr Cech despite reports suggesting the 37-year-old has agreed to become a sporting director at Chelsea when he retires at the end of the season.
Eden Hazard could play his final game for Chelsea amid speculation he’s set for a move to Spain but N’Golo Kante is a major doubt after picking up a knee injury at the weekend. The midfielder failed to take part in full training on Tuesday so it seems unlikely he’ll start tonight.
Antonio Rudiger is certain to miss out with a serious knee injury so Andreas Christensen will continue in defence while Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi are unavailable due to Achilles injuries.
Chelsea 1-2 Arsenal: This has the potential to be a classic game and it will be interesting to see who wins the tactical battle between Emery and Sarri. Chelsea will be relying on Hazard to produce the magic and if he’s on top form he could be unstoppable against a leaky Arsenal defence. However, Emery has a superb record in this competition and the Gunners beat Chelsea 2-0 during their last meeting in January, which will give them confidence. If they can keep things tight at the back and keep Hazard quiet, then I fancy the Gunners to edge it thanks to the firepower of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
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