Europa League Final Preview: Chelsea vs Arsenal
Premier League rivals Chelsea and Arsenal face each other in the Europa League final in Baku on Wednesday, May 29.
Chelsea team news
Defender Antonio Rudiger (knee), midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek and forward Callum Hudson-Odoi (both Achilles) are all ruled out of the final after undergoing surgery on serious injuries.
Midfielder N’Golo Kante has been sidelined recently with a thigh injury, but coach Maurizio Sarri will hope the World Cup winner has recovered in time to feature against the Gunners.
Probable Chelsea starting XI: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Emerson, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic, Pedro, Giroud, Hazard
Arsenal team news
Henrikh Mkhitaryan today announced that he will not play in the final due to security concerns relating to the ongoing conflict between his country, Armenia, and host nation Azerbaijan.
Aaron Ramsey is denied the opportunity to sign-off with a final appearance before his move to Juventus. The Wales international is ruled out with a thigh injury.
Hector Bellerin (knee), Rob Holding (knee), Danny Welbeck (ankle) and Denis Suarez (groin) are still sidelined with their injuries.
Petr Cech, who will retire after this game, is likely to start against his former club. He has been Unai Emery’s preferred option throughout the Europa League run.
Probable Chelsea starting XI: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac, Ozil, Aubameyanh, Lacazette
Chelsea vs Arsenal betting
The bookies have Chelsea as the favourites to win this game, which is supported by them having finished two places above Arsenal in the Premier League this season. You can get odds of 5/4 on the Blues winning the game in 90 minutes, while the Gunners are at 21/10. Of course, as with any final, the possibility of extra-time and penalties is a complicating factor in the betting. You might opt to use a site like Freebets.co.uk and place a free bet to hedge your bets. Alternatively, you could take less generous odds and place a bet in the outright market. Chelsea are 4/6 to lift the trophy and Arsenal are 6/5.
As for the goalscorer markets, the bookies have Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the joint-favourites to open the scoring, with odds of 4/1. Blues striker Olivier Giroud is 11/2, with Gonzalo Higuain and Gunners forward Alexandre Lacazette both at 5/1. The same suspects crop up in the anytime goalscorer market, with Hazard leading the way at 13/8.
Chelsea’s road to the final
Chelsea are unbeaten in the competition. They topped a group containing BATE Borisov, MOL Vidi and PAOK, with a record of five wins and a draw. They only dropped points in a 2-2 draw against MOL Vidi in Hungary. They breezed past Malmo and Dynamo Kiev in the knockout rounds.
The Blues survived a late scare against Slavia Prague in the quarter-finals. They ultimately progressed 5-3 on aggregate.
Both legs of their semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt ended 1-1, but Sarri’s side went through after a penalty shootout.
Arsenal’s road to the final
The Gunners, like Chelsea, progressed from their group with a record of five wins and a draw. Unai Emery’s side finished top ahead of Sporting Lisbon, Vorskla Poltava and Qarabag.
After beating BATE Borisov in the last-32, the Gunners had to turn round a 3-1 first leg deficit against Rennes in the last-16. They did so and progressed 3-4 on aggregate. They eased back Napoli and Valencia in tough-looking quarter-final and semi-final ties.
Chelsea have turned into draw specialists in the latter stages of the season. Since the quarter-final leg win over Slavia Prague, the Blues have drawn five of their six games, including both legs of their semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt. Their only win came against Watford.
After beating Napoli in their quarter-final, the Gunners suffered a blip in which they lost three Premier League games in a row against Crystal Palace, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City. In May, they have beaten Valencia twice in their semi-final and drawn against Brighton & Hove Albion. They finished the Premier League season with a 1-3 win at Burnley.
Chelsea vs Arsenal match officials
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Filippo Meli, Lorenzo Manganelli (Italy)
Fourth official: Daniele Orsato (Italy)
Video Assistant Referee (VAR): Massimiliano Irrati (Italy)
VAR Assistants: Marco Guida (Italy), Szymon Marciniak (Poland)
Offside VAR: Paweł Sokolnicki (Poland)
Watching Chelsea vs Arsenal
The Europa League final is being broadcast live on BT Sport 2. The coverage starts at 7pm. It is available free-to-air for those without BT Sport subscriptions.