Europe’s club football season will wrap itself up this week and go into a summer hibernation, characterised by transfer rumours and pre-season tours to foreign lands.
The first part of an all-English European final double bill, sees Arsenal and Chelsea already head for distant lands, as they face off for the Europa League title in Baku, Azerbaijan. The two London sides have a great rivalry, particularly over the last decade or so, epitomised by several Mourinho vs Wenger battles.
However, this is very much a new era for both sides right now, as Mauricio Sarri and Unai Emery look to cap what has been a mixed debut season for each with a major trophy. The trophy in question has had a tough reception in recent years, but with the might of Atletico Madrid being the holders, plus these two Premier League giants meeting in this year’s final, it’s a good look for Europe’s second biggest club competition.
In anticipation of a huge game, here are some things to look out for when Arsenal play Chelsea…
Farewell game for Eden Hazard?
Transfer rumours are circulating around Chelsea’s number 10, with suggestions that this might be his final game for The Blues.
Expect extra camera angles on Hazard throughout the game and also, as a man for the big occasion, he could decide the fate of the trophy if given the chance.
Arsenal’s deadly duo up front
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette embody this new era at Arsenal, as two strikers have both joined the Gunners within the past two seasons.
This season, particularly in Europe, they have formed a formidable duo. They have scored a combined total of 48 goals between them this season, making them Arsenal’s most likely goal threat. Can Chelsea keep them out?
Unai Emery’s Europa League record
No manager has won this competition more times than Unai Emery, as the former Sevilla manager has won the Europa League three times.
Doing so in consecutive seasons between 2014 and 2016, the Spaniard will be hoping to add his fourth Europa League title with Arsenal this week.
One win each against each other this season
The bookmakers are leaning towards Chelsea as the favourites, just. This is likely to be due to their better end of season form compared to the North Londoners, who fell outside the Champions League places – making this match all the more important for them.
However, in their meetings this season, both side has recorded a victory. A thrilling 3-2 win for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge came before a convincing 2-0 win for Arsenal at their own ground, in what was one of their best performances of the season. Furthermore, a League Cup meeting back in August this season went all the way to penalties – so there’s barely anything to separate these two.