Verdict: Arsenal win
Best Odds: 11/5
With the chance to land a piece of European silverware and simultaneously secure their spot in next year’s Champions League, Arsenal will travel to Baku for an all-Premier League showdown in the final of the Europa League.
Starting with Maurizio Sarri’s side, while the former Napoli boss may have led Chelsea to their first European final in five years and also secured Chelsea a top-four return this year, there still remains plenty of speculation surrounding his future at Stamford Bridge. Needing penalties to come past German outfit Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-finals earlier in the month, the Blues’ Head Coach will have some concerns by Chelsea’s end to the season. Aside from picking up a morale-boosting 3-0 win over the MLS’ New England Revolution in a friendly matchup last week, the Premier League outfit have managed to record just a single victory within 90 minutes in one of their previous seven encounters across all competitions. Although Sarri’s side have marched their way to Baku with an unbeaten record intact, fans in West London will still have some concerns over their sides’ defensive issues. The Blues have failed to record a single clean sheet in any of their past three Europa league appearances, including shipping three at home to Slavia Praha last month. While Sarri may have a mild headache over Chelsea’s defensive struggles, the Italian coach will be looking for former Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud to carry on his success in this year’s tournament. The Frenchman has 10 goals in the Europa League this campaign, no play has scored more than the 32-year-old.
There are serious doubts around Blues’ midfielder N’Golo Kante with the France international picking up an injury in training. Maurizio Sarri is already without Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Antonio Rudiger.
As for the Unai Emery’s side, after failing to secure a top-four finish in the Premier League this season, the former PSG boss will know that his side must lift the Europa League title on Wednesday if they’re to land a Champions League return. Ending their domestic campaign with an impressive 3-1 win away at Burnley, the mood in Arsenal’s camp should be on a high. Enjoying a four-match unbeaten run and winning three of those contests, the Gunners also managed to secure their spot in Baku with an empathic 7-3 aggregate win over La Liga outfit Valencia earlier in the month. Despite really starting to shine in the final third and scoring seven goals in their last two outings, Emery will also be concerned by his sides own defensive issues. The North London side haven’t recorded a clean sheet since the middle of April and have conceded 31 goals in their last 18 away matches. While Chelsea may have one forward who has enjoyed a bright run in this year’s tournament, Arsenal have their own leading man who has enjoyed another stellar year. Bagging 22 Premier League goals and sharing the Golden Boot with the Liverpool duo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, the Gabon international has eight European goals to his name the season, the third best return of any player in the Europa League.
As well as Mkhitaryan Arsenal are without the injured Aaron Ramsey. Danny Welbeck could be in line for a place on the bench after missing much of the season with an ankle problem.
Key Factors to Consider
- The last time the two sides met Arsenal came away with a 2-0 win.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has seven goals in his last four matches across all competitions.
- Olivier Giroud has 10 goals in the Europa League this year, no player has registered more goals.
- Arsenal have conceded 31 goals in their last 18 away matches.
- Chelsea have not recorded a clean sheet in their last three Europa League appearances.
With Chelsea’s off-field issues clearly on display in their final preparations on Tuesday, Unai Emery’s side should see their trip to Baku as a golden opportunity to book a Champions League return. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang enjoying a stellar run of form, coupled with Arsenal picking up a 2-0 win when the two sides met domestically back in January, we’re backing the Gunners to come away with the Europa League crown on Wednesday night.
Verdict: Arsenal win
Best Odds: 11/5
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