Chelsea v Arsenal
The first-ever all-English Europa League final takes place in Baku on Wednesday with Chelsea and Arsenal going head-to-head.
The two Premier League rivals have made the trek to Azerbaijan for UEFA’s second-tier showpiece final but the choice of venue has caused controversy, with Baku situated 2,864 miles away from London.
It means both clubs are likely to be under-represented in the stands, while Gunners playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been prevented from travelling as the Armenian has been advised it is better for his safety to stay away due to ongoing political tensions between his own country and Azerbaijan.
The furore about the venue and Mkhitaryan’s enforced absence has somewhat overshadowed the build-up to the clash, but both sides will be desperate to get it right on the pitch when the action finally gets underway.
Neither London side has had the most stellar of seasons so far but can finish on a high by lifting the Europa League trophy, although Arsenal‘s need could be viewed as greater as they are still searching for Champions League qualification after finishing their domestic campaign in fifth place.
The winners of the Europa League will get into the continent’s premier club competition next season, something Chelsea have already managed after finishing third in the Premier League, but they too will be determined to sign off 2018-19 with a trophy and replicate their triumph in this competition from 2013.
Eden Hazard is expected to depart for Real Madrid this summer so will want to go out with a bang, but boss Maurizio Sarri – who himself is being tipped to move on after the final – has injury worries with N’Golo Kante now a major doubt to add to the confirmed absences of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Antonio Rudiger.
Arsenal‘s Juventus-bound midfielder Aaron Ramsey has also been ruled out but Danny Welbeck could be in line for a place on the bench after missing much of the season with an ankle problem.