Europa League Final Build-Up: Doubts over Sarri and Hazard clouding Chelsea preparation

Unai Emery and Maurizio Sarri
Emery (left) and Sarri both have much at stake in Baku
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Ahead of Wednesday night's Europa League final in Baku, Max Liu has an early look at the betting and discusses some of the key plot lines involving Chelsea and Arsenal.

"Sarri steered Chelsea to a third-place finish in the Premier League, and his team are 2.427/5 to win the Europa League final inside 90 minutes, but his future is the subject of speculation."

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri insists he won't be distracted from trying to win the Europa League final against Arsenal on Wednesday, even though the Italian is the favourite at 2.466/4 to be the next Juventus manager.

Sarri's last stand?

Sarri steered the Blues to a third-place finish in the Premier League, and his team are 2.427/5 to win the Europa League final inside 90 minutes, but his future is the subject of speculation.

The Italian will discuss his future with the Chelsea board after the final but it would be no surprise to see him walk away. He is unpopular with fans, many of whom would love to see club legend Frank Lampard installed as his replacement.

On Sportsbook Lampard, whose Derby side take on Aston Villa in Monday's Championship play-off final, is 1/4 to be next Chelsea manager.

Hazard set for Chelsea swansong?

Hazard thumbs up 1280.JPG

It's not only Sarri who could be on his way out of Stamford Bridge - Eden Hazard is 1/18 to sign for Real Madrid this summer. The Belgian, whose future has long been up in the air, has said that his decision has been made (although he's yet to reveal it).

Hazard has been at Chelsea since 2012, during which time he's won two Premier League titles and gained a reputation as one of the best players in the world. He's said it was his childhood dream to play for Madrid and Baku is likely to be his final appearance in a Chelsea shirt. Can Hazard go out with a bang? He's 9/2 to be first goalscorer.

Mkhitaryan confirms he won't play

The build up to the match has been marred by the depressing controversy surrounding Arsenal's Armenian player Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Armenia and Azerbaijan have a century-long conflict stemming from the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917.

There were fears Armenian Mkhitaryan would not be safe at the final in Baku (capital of Azerbaijan) and the Arsenal forward has confirmed that he will not travel with the squad.

Some commentators have called for Arsenal to take a stand and boycott the final. That, however, looks unlikely and, although they travel to Baku as 3.3512/5 underdogs, they do so under a manager who has already won this competition three times with Sevilla.

Unai Emery has had a mixed first season in charge of Arsenal. At times, the Gunners have played scintillating food - not least in their 11 match winning streak - but towards the end of the season there were signs of the inconsistency that dogged the latter years of Arsene Wenger's reign.

Winning on Wednesday would mean Emery's first season was a success and, of course, get Arsenal into next season's Champions League.

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