Heading into the UEFA Europa League final it certainly seemed like Arsenal had all of the momentum going in their favour. They took more fans to Baku than Chelsea did, seemed to have better preparation for the final, and had a greater motive to win the competition. In the end, though, none of that mattered, as the Blues eased to a 4-1 win and condemned Arsenal to yet another season in the Europa League in the process.
An odd start
Throughout the course of the first 45 minutes it was clear to see the Gunners had the edge, but they just weren’t able to make it count. They created very few opportunities and Chelsea always look like they’ve got the potential to score with Hazard on the pitch, but as the first half came to a close it almost seemed obvious that nobody was going to edge themselves ahead.
The atmosphere in Baku was pretty subdued throughout the course of the entire game, mainly due to the ticket allocations – as well as the many, many issues fans had even getting to Azerbaijan in the first place. It felt more like a friendly at times than anything else, and hopefully it makes UEFA think twice about holding events here in the future.
All too easy
When the second half began it was clear to see that Chelsea were starting to come into their own, with a nice Olivier Giroud header giving them the lead. The former Arsenal forward refused to celebrate out of respect for the Gunners, but Pedro sure did when he doubled their advantage. Eden Hazard made it three in what is likely to be his final game for the Blues, and while Alex Iwobi did give them a chance with an absolute rocket of a goal, Hazard got his second just moments later to kill off the game.
It’s back to the drawing board now for Arsenal in more ways than one, in a game where Unai Emery was really let down by his players. Chelsea were playing some nice stuff at times but it was all just a bit too easy for them. In many ways the final was set up perfectly for the Gunners to have their fairytale end to the season, and now, they’ll spend their weekend praying that bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur don’t become the Champions of Europe in Madrid.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga (6.5), Emerson (7.5), Luiz (7), Christensen (6.5), Azpilicueta (7.5), Kovacic (7), Jorginho (7.5), Kante (6.5), Hazard (9.5), Giroud (9), Pedro (8), Barkley (6), Zappacosta (6), Willian (6.5)
Arsenal: Cech (6.5), Sokratis (6.5), Koscielny (6), Monreal (6), Maitland-Niles (6), Torreira (6.5), Xhaka (7), Kolasinac (6), Ozil (6), Lacazette (6.5), Aubameyang (5.5), Willock (6.5), Iwobi (7.5), Guendouzi (6.5)
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi
Goals: Giroud, Pedro, Hazard x2 :: Iwobi
Yellow Cards: Christensen, Pedro
Red Cards: N/A
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