It might not be the European cup final either side would really like to be competing in, but hey – a trophy’s a trophy, right? When Chelsea and Arsenal step out on to the pitch to try and win the Europa League final, they’ll do so knowing that silverware will go some way to brightening up a relatively drab season for both clubs. Sure, Chelsea reached the League Cup final and somehow scraped third spot in the league and Unai Emery had a decent enough debut season in charge of the Gunners, but both clubs will fancy this…
As part of an all-English quartet of European finalists, both London clubs represent a resurgent country that’s impressing the world with club and international football. Who will triumph, though? Well, let’s take a look at all the info with a quick preview and see if we can’t work it out, eh?
When’s it on and where’s it taking place?
There’s a little controversy over the fact that this big final is taking place on a Wednesday night. That’s Wednesday 29th May, by the way (kick-off is at 8pm). Mainly just because it makes it a little trickier for travelling fans. Not that they’ll be too many of them, though…
The game is taking place in Azerbaijan, of all places. You don’t need to be a geography whizz to have a pretty good idea that its capital, Baku, is a ruddy long way away. The kind of ruddy long way away that involves multiple flights, a lack of sleep and a serious wodge of cash invested. That’s enough to put plenty of supporters off attending. So too is the fact that UEFA – in their eternal wisdom – have allocated a mere 9,000 tickets to each club.
Arsenal – The Gunners have no fresh injury concerns (Aaron Ramsey is still out), with the only new absentee being Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who will not travel to Baku due to safety reasons (it’s all down to a land conflict between his home country and Azerbaijan that dates way back to the early 20th century).
The only selection worry that Emery has is who to play between the sticks. Does he opt for the man who’s been in goal in the Europa League all season, the departing Petr Cech? Or the younger Leno – arguably the better ‘keeper and the future goalkeeper of the club? The consensus seems to be that he’ll stick with Cech, but we don’t think the current Arsenal manager is as sentimental as his predecessor. We think he’ll start Leno.
Chelsea – Injury-wise, Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be out after he hurt himself pretty badly in a daft friendly that Chelsea decided to risk last week in the USA. Callum Hudson-Odoi is also still crocked.
Who will Sarri pick from those available, though? Well, up front he has to decide between the out-of-form and out-of-shape loanee Gonzalo Higuain and the in-form newly contracted Frenchman Ollie Giroud. We know who we’d pick. There’s also some speculation over whether the club will risk starting Eden Hazard for what’s almost certainly due to be his last game for Chelsea. Surely they won’t step in to risk a chance of glory (and the first trophy for Signor Sarri)?
Chelsea [possible 4-3-3]: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Emerson, Kante, Jorginho, Barkley, Pedro, Hazard, Giroud.
Arsenal [possible 3-4-1-2]: Leno, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Where can I watch it?
The Europa League final isn’t on terrestrial TV, but it is going to be free to watch to anyone that downloads the BT Sport app, visits BTSport.com or BT Sport’s YouTube channel or can access the channel on Virgin TV. Although it won’t be available for free on BT Sport via Sky TV, you’ll need to be a subscriber to watch it there.
You can, of course, watch it down any pub that has BT. Or come to us. Your local Rileys will be showing all the action on huge TVs, with food, drinks and all the pool and darts you can play. Click HERE to book your tickets.
Head to heads
It’s honours even in the league between Chelsea and Arsenal this season. Chelsea won 3-2 at Stamford Bridge, then Arsenal won 2-0 at their place.
The two London clubs have only met in Europe once before. Chelsea beat Arsenal in the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals over two legs. It was a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge and 2-1 to Claudio Ranieri’s side at Highbury.
There’s not much to split the two clubs here, odds-wise. Though The Blues do go in as slight favourites at 11/8. You can get 9/4 on Arsenal, which is decent value. The draw is 23/10.
The first goalscorer market sees Eden Hazard (9/2) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (4s) ahead of Alexandre Lacazette (5s) and Giroud (11/2) in the betting.
It’s a tough one to call, this… Both Arsenal and Chelsea have had so-so domestic seasons and shared the spoils in the league with a win apiece. Each side has scored a shedload of goals in this competition, so we can see goals galore here. And both sides scoring. But with Arsenal having impressed more and having a manager that won this competition three times in a row with Sevilla not long ago, we’re backing Arsenal to win and both teams to score at 5/1.
For this all-English Europa League Final event, we’re providing an opportunity to pre-book your seats pitchside in front of the BIG SCREEN so you don’t miss any of the action.
We’re serving food all evening and have some great drink offers to really give you that true stadium atmosphere.
PITCHSIDE TICKETS* £12.99 PER PERSON
Click HERE to book your tickets!
*Pitchside tickets entitle the holder to a burger and fries from our menu, a drink on arrival as well as a guaranteed seat in our Fanzone.