It's a long way to go for Chelsea and Arsenal fans and Paul Higham expects the Gunners to go home empty handed in his best bets for Baku.
Chelsea v Arsenal 2000 BST – BT Sport 2
It’s a London derby, for a European trophy, it’s just a shame it’s being played almost 3000 miles away in Baku, a mere five-and-a-half-hour flight, 58-hour drive or four day train journey.
That is, of course, if Chelsea are Arsenal fans managed to get hole of the meagre 6000 tickets each team have been shamefully allocated by UEFA who have really got this one wrong in terms of venue selection.
On the field, it means that Henrikh Mkhitaryan won’t be playing for Arsenal due to Armenia’s dispute with Azerbaijan, in just one of a number of disappointing aspects to this final – but we’re still left with plenty of reasons to expect a cracker on the pitch in the early hours of Friday morning over in Baku.
It’s an 11pm kick-off over in Azerbaijan, so that’s something both Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery need to think about in their planning for what is a huge game for both that will change good first seasons in charge into great ones for each of them.
Emery is also the master of this competition having won three times in a row with Sevilla, and that knowledge of winning finals may just be the difference in a tight game.
There’s an extra incentive for Arsenal in that they can get into the Champions League with a victory, while for Chelsea it looks like being Eden Hazard’s last game for the club so emotions will be running high above and beyond the usual needle between these two teams.
Tactically it’ll be fascinating to see how they line up – Olivier Giroud will surely get the nod again and Hazard will obviously get a rare start in this competition, and he’ll be the man Arsenal’s creaky defence will have to contain.
Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were dynamite together at Valencia and that kind of display will give them a great chance as Chelsea can also be vulnerable, but they’re rightly favourites given they’re just a bit more solid collectively.
They’re also unbeaten in the Europa League this season, and they’re looking to become the first team to lift the trophy without losing a game in this re-vamped competition. Hazard will also be key as he can be unstoppable on his day and he'll surely be wanting to turn it on in what looks a farewell appearance. He's not scored in ten European games but his last one was actually in Baku against Qarabag.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal (Sky Bet odds: 17/2)
It’s a desperately difficult one to call this, with Chelsea having a stronger side and the best player on show, but Arsenal have a decent recent record against them and can be devastating going forward on their day and could easily win this. Chelsea are favourites for good reason though, and preference must be for them to see it through with Arsenal's defensive weakness just too much to trust.
Best bet: Chelsea to win & both teams to score at 7/2 (Price Boosted)
It's almost inconceivable that both teams won't score here given that the strengths and best players from both sides are going forward. Chelsea have a better chance of keeping a clean sheet but if Aubameyang & Lacazette are anything like their Valencia form then they should certainly score - you just can't see Arsenal's porous back line keeping Hazard at bay.
Stats: Lacazette, Hazard & Aubameyang 1+ shots on target each at 9/4
This just looks too good to turn down given how all three have been playing of late and although you can always expect a cagey start in European finals, this London derby has all the ingredients to really catch fire and a shot on target from each of these is not too much to ask.
RequestABet: Chelsea win, Hazard to score, over 2.5 goals at 7/1
Chelsea v Arsenal Opta stats
- Arsenal against Chelsea will be the second all-English UEFA Cup/Europa League final in history, after Tottenham against Wolves in the UEFA Cup final in 1972.
- This is the 198th meeting in all competitions between Arsenal and Chelsea but only the third in European competition – they met in the 2003-04 Champions League quarter-final, with the Blues progressing 3-2 on aggregate.
- Arsenal vs Chelsea will be the first fixture to played in the FA Cup final, League Cup final and a major European final.
- This will be both Arsenal and Chelsea’s sixth major European finals – only Man Utd (7) and Liverpool (14 – including 2019 Champions League) have reached more among English clubs.
- Arsenal have lost four of their five major European finals, with their only victory coming in the 1994 Cup Winners’ Cup against Parma; they’ve lost each of their last three, losing in the 1995 Cup Winners’ Cup, 2000 UEFA Cup and 2006 Champions League finals.
- In all European competition, Arsenal have faced opponents from 27 different nations and beaten teams from 26 of those countries, with the only exception being against English clubs.
- Chelsea have won four of their five major European finals (2x Cup Winners’ Cup/1x Champions League/1x Europa League). Among English teams, only Man Utd (5) and Liverpool (8) have won more major European finals.
- This final will be third time two teams from the same nation have faced in the Europa League final, after Porto v Braga in 2011 and Atletico Madrid v Athletic Club in 2012.
- Arsenal manager Unai Emery has won the Europa League more often than any other manager, winning it three times in 2014, 2015 and 2016 with Sevilla.
- Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud has scored 10 Europa League goals this season, the most by a Blues player in a single European season (excl. qualifiers) and the joint-most by a French player in major European competition in a season – Nestor Combin in the 1963-64 Cup Winners’ Cup and Just Fontaine in the 1958-59 European Cup also scored 10.
- Arsenal’s Unai Emery could become only the fourth manager to win the UEFA/Europa League with two different teams, after Giovanni Trapattoni (Juventus & Inter Milan), Jose Mourinho (Porto & Man Utd) and Rafael Benitez (Valencia & Chelsea).
- Both Arsenal and Chelsea have won 11 Europa League games this season – only three teams have ever won more major European games in a single season (excluding qualifiers); Real Madrid in 2001-02 (12), Porto in 2010-11 (12) and Atletico Madrid in 2011-12 (13).
- If Arsenal win this match, only Giovanni Trapattoni (5) will have won more major European finals than Unai Emery (4), while only three other managers would have won as many as four with a 100% record in each final – Nereo Rocco, Bob Paisley and Jose Mourinho.
- Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri is the first Italian to manage in a UEFA Cup/Europa League final since Alberto Malesani in 1999, who won the trophy with Parma that year.
- The two previous Italians to manage an English club in a major European final have managed Chelsea to victory – Gianluca Vialli in the 1998 Cup Winners’ Cup final and Roberto Di Matteo in the 2012 Champions League final.
- Arsenal’s last eight Europa League goals have been scored by either Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (4) or Alexandre Lacazette (4).
- Azerbaijan will be the 24th different country to host a major European final and the third consecutive year a country will host a major final for the first time – Wales for the 2016-17 Champions League final and Ukraine for the 2017-18 Champions League final.
Odds correct as of 1349 BST on 29/05/19