Europa League Final: What you need to know before Wednesday

Unai Emery is eyeing up a fourth Europa League win.
Unai Emery.
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Team news, stats, controversy, players to watch and a betting tip ahead of the Europa League final. All by Jamie Pacheco.

"If we’re looking at who the two men in the dug-out are, then it’s hard to see why the Blues are so fancied. As mentioned already, Sarri has never won a trophy while Emery has owned this competition."

What's the occasion?

This is the 10th Europa League final since the tournament was renamed and re-branded back in 2009-10.

It's the first ever all-English final. Before this, four teams from England have made the last stage on four seperate occasions, only two of those have won.

Chelsea won it back in 2012-13, beating Benfica on penalties and Manchester United were victorious against Ajax in a 2-0 win in the 2016-17 season.

What's at stake?

For Chelsea it's an opportunity for Maurizio Sarri to win a trophy in his first season at Chelsea but not only that: it's a chance for him to win his first-ever trophy as a manager, full stop.

Chelsea have already qualified for next season's Champions League via the league, so the outcome of the match won't have any bearing on that.

Should Arsenal win, it would mean manager Unai Emery would be winning this competition for a quite remarkable fourth time, after his Sevilla side lifted the trophy for three years in a row between 2013-16.

More importantly for the club, it would mean they would be in the Champions League next season after missing out on qualifying via the Premier League.

Where and when is it?

It will be held at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. It starts at 20:00 BST on Wednesday May 29.

The choice of venue has already caused controversy after Armenian, Arsenal playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan was advised not to travel over concerns over his own safety. Azerbaijan are in a dispute with Armenia and the decision has been taken that it's not worth the risk of injury, or worse, for the sake of a game of football.

It's shocking this should happen within Europe in 2019 but in truth the sporting consequences aren't too drastic. The former Manchester United man hasn't been a guaranteed starter all season, is out of form and hasn't scored a goal for his club since February. He probably wouldn't have started this game, even if he had travelled.

Quirky Stat: Azerbaijan are the 24th different country to host a European final.

Road to the final

Both sides topped their groups but have each had at least one very tricky tie in between that and the final.

Arsenal lost 3-1 away at Rennes before winning 3-0 at home to go through 4-3 on aggregate in the Round of 32, while Chelsea needed penalties to get the better of a stubborn Eintracht Frankfurt in the semis.

It was 1-1 in Germany and 1-1 again at Stamford Bridge so after 210 minutes of football it went down to spot-kicks. Cesar Azpilicueta missed one but the Germans (uncharacteristically) missed their fourth and fifth efforts. Admittedly neither of the guilty players was German.

Players to watch

Chelsea: Eden Hazard

This could well be Eden Hazard's final match for Chelsea as the rumours of a move to Real Madrid refuse to go away. Partly because Hazard himself hasn't tried hard at all to distance himself from the move.

The true professional that he is, Hazard will want to end his Chelsea career in style with a good performance, if possible a goal... and a win. It would mean: going away on a high note, adding another trophy to his CV and being able to demand a higher salary when he does move to Real, depending on which way you want to look at it.

Either way, he's been Chelsea's most important player in attack pretty much since he joined the Blues seven years ago and it's no different going into this match. He's 9/2 to be first goalscorer and 13/8 to score anytime.


Arsenal: Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang

The former Dortmund man could be forgiven for wondering whether he made the right choice in joining Arsenal 18 months ago when half of Europe's best clubs were desperate for his signature. No Top 4 finish in the Premier League last year or this one.

And the knowledge that not winning here means he won't be experiencing Champions League football in the red and white of Arsenal in the next campaign, either.

At least he's been in excellent form at an individual level. His last 10 appearances yielded nine goals and his 22 goals in the league meant he ended in a three-way tie for top scorer. Arsenal will need him at his best.

He's the 9/2 joint-favourite to be first scorer and 13/8 joint-favourite to score alongside Hazard.

What's the betting saying?

Chelsea are 4/6 favourites on Betfair Sportsbook to lift the trophy and 13/10 to win the game in 90 minutes.

If we're looking at who the two men in the dug-out then it's hard to see why the Blues are so fancied. As mentioned already, Sarri has never won a trophy while Emery has owned this competition.

Chelsea may have finished two points better off in the league, but so what? When they played each other this season Arsenal won 2-0 at home and lost 3-2 away, so it's certainly not the head-to-head between the two sides this season that's making Sarri's troops the favourites.

At 6/5 the Gunners look the bet to win the Europa League; though it would be no surprise if extra-time or penalties was needed to split them.

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