Chelsea’s final game of the season pits us in the final of the Europa League against rivals Arsenal, where European honours and pride are at stake. As we continuously sing ‘We’re the only team in London to win a European Cup’, we have to maintain our bragging rights again, and win some silverware in our season, whilst also preventing Arsenal from reaching the Champions League for next season. The match is on the other side of the planet in Baku, Azerbaijan, kicking off at 11:00pm local time, with an 8:00pm kick off time here in the UK.
Come on you Blues!
Our Form: (D-D-W-D-D)
It’s been a few weeks without competitive action for the Blues, but we ended the season looking a tad tired, and unable to string together a few wins, or put together consecutive decent performances. Our only win, and credible performance in our last five matches was against Watford which secured our place in the top four. Lots of our recent matches have been long-winded tussles with Manchester United, Frankfurt and also at Leicester on the final day. Not a lot to decide between the teams, with us content at keeping our opponents at bay.
We finished the season in 3rd place, which is hard to believe given the amount of stick Sarri has received at times, but that’s a fantastic position to be in, considering the strength of the two teams above us. He also has the opportunity to win the Europa League, but history may repeat itself, as Rafa Benitez qualified for the Champions League and won the Europa League in his season here at Stamford Bridge, but that wasn’t enough for him to continue as our manager. Eden Hazard scored the decisive penalty for us to reach the final, and sadly, this could be his last game for our club. Can he go out on a high, with one more world class performance, one more tearing up of Arsenal? Please..? If not, I’ll settle for an Olivier Giroud winner coming off his backside in the final second of the match.
Our Opponents Form: (L-W-D-W-W)
Arsenal do come into the final with a slighter better form in recent matches, but overall in the last couple of months they have been close to shocking – particularly away from home. Chelsea’s only defeat since March was at Liverpool, whereas Arsenal have lost at Wolves and Leicester, as well as losing to Crystal Palace at home during that time.
I’ll have to be brutally honest, and can’t deny that they have had a tougher route to the final. They didn’t cover themselves up in glory by losing at BATE Borisov and Rennes in the knockout rounds, but managed to look convincing against tough opposition Napoli and Valencia in the quarter final and semi-finals, respectively. The man to watch out for is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has 8 goals in this season’s competition, and four of them came in the semi-finals.
Their manager Unai Emery is a specialist in this competition, having won it three years in a row from 2014 to 2016 with Sevilla.
Head to Head
Arsenal and Chelsea have taken it in turns to be the dominant side in London over the last 20 years. Arsene Wenger had his time from 1997-2004 where Chelsea couldn’t buy a win (hey, no pun intended) against Arsenal. However, as soon as legend Didier Drogba came to Chelsea, we couldn’t stop beating them throughout his time at Chelsea. In recent seasons, it’s been relatively even, with Chelsea and Arsenal winning one game apiece already in this year’s Premier League campaign. We beat them at the Bridge 3-2 back in August, before then being humbled 2-0 at the Emirates back in January.
In finals, Chelsea and Arsenal have faced off three times in their history, and all have come since the turn of the millennium. Arsenal won the FA Cup final in 2002, but we got our revenge in the League Cup final in 2007. The most recent final was the FA Cup in Antonio Conte’s first season in 2016/2017, but unfortunately he couldn’t seal the double as Arsene Wenger won his last trophy for Arsenal in a 2-1 win. Two of those finals were in Cardiff, one was in London. Who will conquer in Baku?
As there has been over two weeks before the clubs last played a game, there is no injur….oh, wait. I almost forgot, Chelsea DID play a pointless friendly in the USA (well, it was a worthy cause just at the wrong time). In that game, Ruben Loftus-Cheek picked up an injury which rules him out, alongside Callum Hudson-Odoi and Antonio Rudiger. N’Golo Kante is a concern, but may make the starting line-up.
For Arsenal, Aaron Ramsey, who will leave the club this summer, is missing due to injury. Besides that, they don’t have any other fresh injury news. It’s also worth noting that Chelsea legend Petr Cech will play his last ever game in his career, before returning back to his home (Chelsea, not Prague) for next season in an off-field job role. Let’s just hope he really wants a job at the current Europa League holders…
It’s a final. An all-London final. In a European competition. I am rightfully feeling anxious, worried, enthusiastic, and soon will be immensely agitated as we are now so close to the final. Its undeniable that this match matters way more to Arsenal than us. Why? Well, they need to win it to get into the Champions League, and European trophies just don’t happen to them. However, we are Chelsea, the pride of London, and I couldn’t stomach losing to them.
Anyway, I am confident we’ll lift the trophy. Olivier Giroud and Eden Hazard are both going to score for us in a comfortable 2-0 win. Arsenal may start the stronger, and come out at us from the get-go, but as the game pans out, we’ll find more space to damage them, and our quality will shine through at the end. We’ll need a 9/10 performance from every one in Blue, and if we do, then there is no doubt that we’ll lift our third European trophy in seven years. Come on you Blues!
Score Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal