Just a few hours to go now before the all English Europa League final between Arsenal and Chelsea in Baku, Azerbaijan. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the game but now is the time to put all that to bed and concentrate on the football.
One of the benefits of winning the Europa League is automatic qualification to the Champions League, however, Chelsea has already achieved that via their third-place finish in the Premier League, but Arsenal does not have that luxury and must prevail in order to make next seasons elite European competition.
Chelsea cannot relax too much either, especially their manager Maurizio Sarri, with speculation rampant that this could be his final game in charge of the Blues.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Antonio Rüdiger have all been ruled out and N’Golo Kante faces a late fitness test.
Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding are unavailable due to injury and Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been omitted due to security reasons.
Predicted Line ups
Kepa, Alonso, Luiz, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kovacic, Barkley, Hazard, Pedro, Giroud.
Cech, Kolasinac, Monreal, Koscielny, Sokratis, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Torreira, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
This is set to be a tight game between two very even teams and a lot will depend on which team is best able to contain their opponent’s most dangerous players.
Arsenal will have to find a way of stopping Eden Hazard from taking control of the game, he has the ability to be the one player to make a difference, and if he is not contained Arsenal will be in for a very tough evening.
Chelsea will need to come up with a way of negating the double threat of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, both are on fire right now and will relish attacking the Chelsea backline.
Neither defence is what you would describe as stable with both having multiple vulnerabilities that can be exposed, and the game could easily be won or lost depending on which defence performs the better.
That said, control of the midfield is pivotal, lose the midfield and you will lose the game. In better words this game can be broken down into three components, defences are vulnerable, forward lines are formidable and the midfield is where the game will be won.
With that in mind, it is Arsenal that looks the better prospects, the Chelsea midfield will be severely weakened if Kante does not play and even if he does they remain a flaky unit, whereas the Arsenal midfield looks more solid and organised in comparison.
Chelsea haven’t beaten Arsenal away from Stamford Bridge for the last 5 meetings, including 2 on neutral ground, but are the bookie’s favourites at a 2.298, the draw is 3.179 and the bet on Arsenal at 3.507 right now on the Mustardbet exchange looks excellent value. The odds are changing every minute
There have been quite a lot of draws though between the two sides, so it may be more prudent to bet on Arsenal at +0.25 goals at just under even money (1.946) on Mustardbet. That way you win even if it is a draw….
Both Chelsea and Arsenal have scored in 7 of the last 11 meetings, so another safe bet from MustardBet could be the 1.676 on offer for both teams to score. With both sides playing the high pressing game there are sure to be many goalscoring opportunities for both sides..
Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea
Referee – G. Rocchi (Italy)
Assistants – F. Meli, L. Manganelli (Italy)
Fourth official – D. Orsato (Italy)
Location – Olympic Stadium, Baku
Kick off time – 20.00 (BST)
TV – BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4KUHD
Online – BT Sport’s YouTube channel
For the first time ever we are going to have a live updated blog below this showing all the most important points of the game, so you can see updated action as it happens. Don’t forget to refresh often!