It's been a controversial run up to the Europa League Final, but it finally comes to a conclusion on Wednesday night in Baku and Kevin Hatchard has the Gunners going for glory.
"Victory in the Azeri capital would give Unai Emery a glittering start to his tenure as Arsenal coach, and on a personal note he would claim the UEL crown for the fourth time in his career, having won he trophy three seasons' running with Sevilla."
Chelsea v Arsenal
Wednesday 29 May, 20:00
Live on BT Sport
Defiant Sarri can prove his way is the right way
The statistics will tell you that managers don't last very long at Chelsea these days.
Since Jose Mourinho brought down the curtain (or had it yanked down for him) on his first spell in charge in September 2007, no-one has made it to three years in the role, and no-one has made it to 150 matches in charge in one spell. This is a club of boom-and-bust, of whispers in the background. But this is also a club that has had great success with this managerial merry-go-round. In the 21st century, the Blues have won five Premier League titles, a Champions League, a Europa League, six FA Cups and three League Cups.
Maurizio Sarri can be the latest Chelsea boss to add his name to the roll of honour. Having arrived from Napoli amidst talk of changing the club's style and culture, Sarri has stayed true to his methods, despite mounting criticism.
He has delivered Champions League qualification, finishing above Manchester United and Arsenal in the process, he was denied a League Cup triumph by virtue of a penalty shoot-out at the hands of treble winners Manchester City, and he has made relatively serene progress to the final of the UEL.
Chelsea took 16 points from the group stage, and won every knockout game until they ran into Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-finals. After a pair of tense 1-1 draws (Chelsea were the better side in Germany, Eintracht impressed at Stamford Bridge), the Blues came through on penalties.
Injuries have bitten hard, with Antonio Rudiger, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and now N'Golo Kante all ruled out. Eden Hazard has been used sparingly in this competition, but will look to shine in what is likely to be his last appearance for Chelsea, while the competition's joint-top scorer Olivier Giroud will look to add to his tournament tally of ten goals.
Emery and Arsenal on the hunt for more glory
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and your assessment of Arsenal's last few seasons very much depends on what you believe is important in football. The Gunners have failed to mount a serious and sustained title charge in recent years, and have spent a couple of seasons with their noses pressed up against the Champions League glass, but they won the FA Cup in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
If they lift the Europa League trophy in Baku, not only will they add another major trophy to their recent collection, but they will seize a golden ticket to the Champions League.
Victory in the Azeri capital would give Unai Emery a glittering start to his tenure as Arsenal coach, and on a personal note he would claim the UEL crown for the fourth time in his career, having won he trophy three seasons' running with Sevilla. Emery's enthusiasm for the tournament has been clear from the get-go, as he publicly relished long trips to eastern Europe while other managers would've bitterly complained.
Arsenal were impressive in the group phase (they claimed 16 points from six games), but they had some scrapes on the way through the knockout section. In the ties against BATE Borisov and Rennes, they lost the away leg before recovering at the Emirates Stadium. However, the Gunners powered their way through the quarter-finals and semi-finals, winning all four matches against Napoli and Valencia.
All seven goals that were scored across the two legs against Valencia were scored by either Alexandre Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and although Emery was wedded to the idea of only starting one of them for quite some time, the decision to pair them up has reaped rewards.
Frenchman Lacazette was named Arsenal's Player of the Season (he has scored 13 Premier League and five UEL goals), while the fleet-footed Aubameyang has rattled in 30 goals across the PL and Europa League.
Both strikers are expected to start in Baku, but one player who won't be present is Armenia international Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Armenia and Azerbaijan's long-standing conflict means Mkhitaryan doesn't feel safe enough to travel to Baku. Emery says he would have loved the attacking midfielder to be at his disposal, but he respects his decision.
Gunners overpriced in tight contest
Arsenal are the 3.1511/5 outsiders to win in 90 minutes, and that seems a bit too big to me. They have gained momentum as the tournament has progressed, they have proven firepower that can make a big difference, and they outplayed Chelsea the last time they faced them (a 2-0 Premier League victory at the Emirates.)
Chelsea have been impressive in this competition for the most part, but they were shaky at times against both Slavia Praha in the quarter-finals and Eintracht Frankfurt in the semis, and they finished the campaign with just two wins in their last eight matches.
This will be close, and if Hazard plays to his full capabilities he'll give Arsenal's inconsistent defence a few headaches, but I think the North London side will edge it. Sarri has never won a major trophy, and Emery's greater experience of this kind of occasion could be an important factor.
I'll back Arsenal to win the Europa League at 2.245/4.
Both defences to be breached in Baku
Chelsea had a strong defensive record in the UEL going into the quarter-finals, but they have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last three games in the competition. Indeed, both teams have scored in five of their last seven matches in all competitions.
Arsenal have seen a BTTS bet land in six of their last seven outings in all competitions, including both semi-final matches against Valencia. With Hazard and Giroud on one side and Lacazette plus Aubameyang on the other, I think backing Both Teams To Score at 1.84/5 is a sensible play.
Auba can make the difference
Aubameyang is in red-hot goalscoring form, having netted seven goals in his last four matches. He has proven himself to be an instinctive goalscorer again this term, and the Gabon international scored 27 goals across the Premier League, Bundesliga and Champions League last season.
I'll back Aubameyang to score here at 2.56/4, while on the Chelsea side, Giroud is certainly worth considering at 3.052/1.
Back Arsenal to win the Europa League at 2.245/4
Back Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score at 2.56/4