Chelsea and Arsenal go head to head for Europa League glory


Chelsea and Arsenal clash in the Europa League final in Azerbaijan with a place in the Champions League at stake.

However, more controversially, the location of Wednesday’s final has come under fire due to its difficulty to reach.

Currently, there are no scheduled flights to travel directly from London to Baku in the week of the final. Supporters hoping for a quick journey on the day of the final will be faced with a journey of six hours 55 minutes at the minimum, with the majority lasting more than 10 hours.

So, with the two competing teams located just nine miles from each other, supporters are understandably frustrated by the need to travel 2,467 miles to watch the Europa League final.

Whoever wins will automatically qualify for Europe’s top competition and feature in the Champions League group stage next season.

The London duo will be keen to add a prestigious trophy to their cabinets for the first time since 2017; however, a victory for Arsenal is even more important having finished the Premier League in fifth.

On the other hand, Maurizio Sarri has come under increasing pressure at Chelsea following a below-par season. The Italian has been under severe scrutiny as a result of a lack of leadership integrity and poor form, leading to Chelsea legend Frank Lampard reportedly being lined up for the manager’s job.

Team news

Chelsea will be without midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Achilles) as well as N’Golo Kante (knee).

Callum Hudson-Odoi and Antonio Rudiger remain out, leaving Sarri with very little midfield cover. Danny Drinkwater could feature but has been out of favour, youngster Ethan Ampadu has only just returned from injury.

The Gunners have a slight concern over Sead Kolasinac, the wing-back was seen training with strapping to his leg on Sunday and Monday.

Rob Holding remains injured while Shkodran Mustafi is struggling for form. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has not travelled due to political tensions between Azerbaijan and his native Armenia.

From the bosses

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri said that he hopes Wednesday’s result will not determine the outcome of his career with the London side.

“Now it is time to think of the final,” said the 60-year-old. “I have two years of my contract here,” said Sarri. “I have no contract with other clubs. I have to speak with my club after the final. I want to know if they are happy with me.”

“I’m very, very happy but we have to discuss the situation. It’s normal. You have to discuss things with the club.”

Arsenal boss Unai Emery recounted that he has always acknowledged the importance of the Europa League.

“The first idea thing I had to transmit to the players this season is that we go for every competition. When we started playing in the first Europa League matches, some players preferred to play Premier League.

“OK, but I am going to decide when you are going to rest or not.

“I don’t want you to think you might not play in the early rounds and yet, when we arrive at the semi-final or the final, you say to me: “I am here to play.”

“All season, the approach to this competition has been a big focus, a big ambition to do something important. To feel this competition like we want it.”


About Author

When not busy covering local news for EssexLive, Matt Lee can be found in the press box at Portman Road covering Ipswich Town's return to the Championship and push for the Premier League.

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