The first of the English-sides to lock horns in this years European Final’s begins tonight! North-London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea are just hours away from taking the walk at the Baku Olympic Stadium in Azerbaijan….
Chelsea and Arsenal have both made top four in the Premier League to secure Champions League football for next season, and will get a bite of the cherry at end of season silverware, and use a Europa League victory as a huge European stepping stone.
The Stats and Facts
This will be Chelsea’s first European final from their Europa League final victory over Benfica in 2013. Mad to think that was six years ago!
While Arsenal have been a stable in the competition for the past two seasons, reaching the semi-finals last years and going one further this season.
All expected to start in Baku are Eden Hazard, David Luiz and César Azpilicueta whi were part of the squad that last won the competition. Manager Maurizio Sarri has never won a major trophy as a coach, will certainly hope his sides experience will get him over the line.
However Arsenal head-coach Unai Emery, is a man who has won the competition three times already. Three times with Sevilla in three consecutive years, from 2014, 15 and 16 which is a coaching record.
Eden Hazard v Ainsley Maitland-Niles
All the question surrounding Chelsea’s Belgian winger Eden Hazard and where his future will lie after the competition. However it is the wingers match-up with young-Gunners full-back Maitland-Niles that is most intriguing.
Having missed the 2013 final due to injury, Hazard will relish the opportunity to take on the 21-year old converted right-winger. The 28 year-old experienced Hazard has done it on the big stage many times before, can he do it one last time on his potential swan-song for Chelsea?
Jorginho v Lucas Torreira
The battle may be won in the middle of the park. Chelsea’s Brazilian midfielder Jorginho and Arsenal’s Uruguayan Lucas Torreria, are vital players for both sides and in the manner their sides set-up tactically.
Both players are pivotal for their sides, enjoying a rich end of season form and ability to set-up the play for their key attackers. Both have had a rocky start to the season but have really come into their own towards the business end of the season.
Christensen and David Luiz v Aubameyang and Lacazette
Aubameyang and Lacazette have contributed 13 goals and five assists between them during the run to the final, scoring big goals at big moments. Aubameyang’s excellent movement added with Lacazette’s instinctive finishing is a force to be reckoned with!
However, Chelsea have conceded just nine goals in 14 games in the competition this season, while David Luiz has put a stop to Aubameyang in both of their league meetings this season.
Don’t forget that Chelsea target-man Olivier Giroud is the joint-top scorer in the competition with 10 goals, so it really could be anyones’ night!
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