Arsenal vs. Chelsea – Europa League Final Preview
So the final is upon us.
We’re in Azerbaijan, and the talk of Mkhitaryan not going, fans’ travel costs, and why Azerbaijan was even chosen, now comes all to a head.
THE Arsenal is facing off with Chelsea, for the Europa League.
Our first European final since 2006.
Can we win our first European trophy since 1994?
What factors can affect us winning in Baku?
Even if it means a potential UEFA Super Cup vs. Spurs (though preferably Liverpool), we cannot control the Champions League final. But we can control this game, and it’s our prime opportunity to get into the Champions League next season.
This is arguably the biggest game in the recent history of our club – perhaps bigger than the 2014 FA Cup final. We won that – and we can win this too.
Key men to affect the final on each side
Hazard is often deemed as inconsistent, and in some cases this is correct.
But then this could be his last game for Chelsea, given mooted moves to Real Madrid.
And as a Chelsea legend, he will want to go out with a bang.
Chelsea already has Champions League football for next season, via finishing third in the league.
However, a trophy is up for grabs, and what better way for a Chelsea legend to win a trophy (potentially) his last ever game.
Most acknowledge that on his day, Hazard is one of the world’s top talents. It remains if on his day can emerge or not.
Jorginho has been maligned somewhat, however, in the latter season he improved. However, his style is central to Chelsea’s play, and he has to be on top form if Chelsea is to get the win here.
Chelsea though has been hampered if teams press him, and not allow him the time or space to get forward and pick out passes. As a regista, such a facet is crucial to his game.
David Luiz, as one of Chelsea’s principal defenders, must be able to handle Arsenal’s Aubameyang and Lacazette. Both have great pace and power, and are in hot form, so he must be able to handle them to keep Chelsea competitive.
Kepa Arrizabalaga’s actions in the League Cup Final embarrassed Sarri, Chelsea, and himself.
He has a great chance to rectify this, in helping Chelsea win the final, and getting a trophy in his first season at the club.
Olivier Giroud was a player of good note at Arsenal. His scoring record here was decent and helped the side win three FA Cups in 2014, 2015, and 2017.
He also knows key Arsenal defenders, like Laurent Koscielny, both from Arsenal and the French national side. So he would know how to read and hurt Arsenal and get the best for his new side against us.
So then who could be our heroes on the night? Who can be the star men in getting us our first European trophy in a while?
Who can be the stars of Baku?
Laurent Koscielny has been a stalwart in Arsenal’s defence, and since 2010 has been a positive note in a largely uninspiring defence.
He has spoken of pondering retirement, and should this be his last game, it would be a fine thing for a captain to win before calling it a day. He still has his pace, and with his old buddy and compatriot Giroud against him, he will know how to play him as much as Giroud will know his game, at the least.
“Kos the boss”, if this is indeed his final game for us, should go out with a bang.
Petr Cech is a Chelsea legend, and in an ironic manner is playing his last career game vs. Chelsea. He announced earlier in the season that he would be retiring, though the furore of his supposed appointment as Chelsea technical director complicates matters.
Though Cech is a professional and should give his all, and would be under scrutiny in his performance here.
Lucas Torreira has been a fine signing from Sampdoria and has added a long-needed dimension to the midfield. Midfield dominance is crucial in this game, and Torreira must exercise his combative game to full effect.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the joint top scorer in the Premier League in 18/19, with Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. He is widely recognised as a clinical player and finisher, and his hat-trick in the semi-final at Valencia shows his eminent quality.
He could be a key that Chelsea must watch for.
Alexandre Lacazette is Arsenal’s Player of the Season in 18/19, as voted by Arsenal fans/members.
He has not scored as many goals as Aubameyang, though he brings a greater technical edge.
Chelsea must also watch for him in this capacity.
How can Arsenal handle Hazard? Hazard is playing more in his preferred left position, which means Ainsley Maitland-Niles or Sokratis could be his opponents. Moreover, Arsenal’s midfielders must also get in the proper positions to be counter Chelsea, and press them if needed.
How can Chelsea handle Aubameyang and Lacazette?
Will Chelsea be able to handle the pressing Arsenal may do in the midfield? Xhaka, Torreira, and Guendouzi may be used in this light. Alex Iwobi too could feature here.
Will our defence hold up? It’s a well-known weakness, and Sarri knows that.
Will Emery “out-tactic” Sarri? Sarri isn’t the strongest of managers tactically – but then he did formulate a plan of sorts in the League Cup final vs. City. Chelsea only lost this on penalties, and amongst an extraordinary tussle between Sarri and Kepa.
Will Aubameyang and Lacazette even turn up? They are arguably both the outstanding players in the match, and the world knows their value and worth here.
I’d favour this shape here:
For me, dominating the midfield is primary. Hence a mix of Guendouzi, Xhaka and Torreira can accomplish this, with Laca dropping deep. The defence and AMN must keep Hazard under wraps, and Jorginho must also be shut down too. If we do these, then we can hold a grand chance to get the win and the trophy.
Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea
I really think we can do it. We need to capitalise on Chelsea’s faults and bring home a first European trophy since 1994.
It’s been way too long – and now is the time.
Opportunities shouldn’t be spurned up – and this can be our third European trophy.
We are THE Arsenal – and we need to conquer Europe more often.
Let’s do this Arsenal!