Europa League final: Chelsea and Arsenal prepare for battle
28 May 2019
London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea are preparing to go head-to-head in a huge UEFA Europa League final showdown in Baku.
Arsenal are appearing in a first major European final since 2006 while Chelsea are looking to replicate the success they had in this competition in 2013.
Hosted at the Olympic Stadium, the Gunners need a win to make it back to into the UEFA Champions League after a two-year absence.
Chelsea meanwhile are looking to round off a positive season with a major European honour as they head back into the Champions League after finishing third in the Premier League.
The Blues will be looking to the brilliance of Eden Hazard to spearhead them to glory after another stellar campaign at Stamford Bridge.
The brilliant Belgian has scored 19 goals and laid on 16 assists during his seventh season at the club, including a host of incredible solo goals.
Hazard is yet to score in the seven Europa League matches he’s played but that could be about to change in Baku.
The 28-year-old has scored five times against Arsenal in his Chelsea career, providing two assists in the process.
Arsenal could also come up against a familiar face when the sides square-off in Azerbaijan in the form of Olivier Giroud.
The French forward spent six years at the Emirates and became a fan favourite, scoring 105 times for Arsenal.
The Europa League has been the forward’s domain this season and is the competition’s joint top scorer with 10 goals in 13 matches.
Chelsea had to rely on penalties to overcome Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-finals with Kepa Arrizabalaga pulling off two fine stops.
Arsenal meanwhile bulldozed their way past Valencia in the final four, winning 3-1 at home before cruising to a 4-2 victory in the Mestalla.
The Gunners finished fifth in the Premier League meaning failure to win the Europa League would mean a third straight season without Champions League football.
Unai Emery has won this tournament on three occasions, all with Sevilla between 2014 and 2016.
The Spaniard knows his way around the competition with Arsenal scoring 27 goals in Europa League so far this season.
Three of those came from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the semi-final second leg against Valencia and Gabonese forward has been electric for the Gunners this season, netting 31 goals across all competitions.
His partner in crime, Alexandre Lacazette, has also been deadly in front of goal, scoring in the 2-0 victory over Chelsea in the Premier League in January.
Arsenal are playing in Baku for the second time this season having defeated Qarabag in the group stages of the competition.
Mesut Özil has been a key player for Arsenal since arriving in 2013 and could be the main man to fire the Gunners to Europa League glory.
The World Cup winner has 43 goals and 74 assists in his six-year spell and will be looking for the likes of Aubameyang and Lacazette to come up with the goods in Baku.