Chelsea vs Arsenal Preview: The Europa League Final
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Chelsea vs Arsenal Preview: The Europa League Final

Arsenal will look to claim a Champions League place for next season's competition as they travel to Baku, Azerbaijan. 

dominicscottbone
Dominic Scott-Bone

Baku hosts an all-English Europa League final as Chelsea come up agaisnst Arsenal on Wednesday evening. 

This is the last game of the season for both sides and will ultimately produce the defining verdict of their 2018/19 campaigns. 

The Blues are unbeaten in this year's Europa League, and if they win, will be the first undefeated team to win the competition. 

On the other hand, Unai Emery's Gunners have performed valiantly in the knockout stages to overcome a three-goal deficit versus Rennes as well as earning victories against Napoli and Valencia respectively. 

The game kicks off at 20:00 BST and is being broadcast on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4KUHD. 

However if you are unable to watch the game live on television, make sure to follow the VAVEL Live Blog for updates. 

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The importance for Arsenal

Although Chelsea have already secured Champions League football after finishing third in the Premier League, Arsenal still need to win this game to earn their position amongst Europe's elite. 

Emery has won the Europa League more than any other manager, winning it on three consecutive occasions in 2014, 2015 and 2016, all with Sevilla, so the Gunners couldn't be in better hands heading into this one.

If Arsenal can overcome this blue hurdle and earn their place in the 2019/20 Champions League, it would exhibit a magnificent season in Europe for English teams. 

But, if they lose, it'll be another year of disappointment and Europa League football for Emery's men. 

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The Sarri Saga

Maurizio Sarri has guided his team to third in the league this season behind high flying Liverpool and Manchester City, as well as Carabao Cup and Europa League finals. 

Nevertheless, there is mixed opinion on the Italian tobacco chewer throughout the Chelsea fan base and there is no guarantee that we will see him on the English sidelines next season, even with a win on Wednesday. 

There has been plenty of debate surrounding his tenure from Kepa's substitution refusal in the Carabao Cup final to positioning N'Golo Kante, who is regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders around, in a more advanced position to accomodate his summer signing Jorginho.

Tuesday evening has shown even more despair amongst the Chelsea ranks after the boss stormed off during an open training session. With the dressing room seemingly lost, this could well be Sarri's last game in charge of the Blues, and something Arsenal could pounce upon. 

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Hazard's last game?

Eden Hazard's comments after netting the decisive penalty to lead his side to the final of the Europa League have suggested that this will be the final game of his seven-year Chelsea career. 

The Belgian admitted that it could be a 'last trophy' with the club and admitted he will do all in his power to bring silverware back to Stamford Bridge

Real Madrid, who have been continuously linked with the forward, are circling and are said to be preparing a bid following Chelsea's final game of the season.

He is the one player of world-class pedigree that could single handedly win this game on Wednesday, so if his 'A' game is brought to Baku, it could be a delightful final spell in the blue of Chelsea.

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Arsenal team news

It's highly likely that Emery will start Wednesday evening's proceedings with a 3-4-1-2 formation. 

The 47-year-old seems to have found a system to fit both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in, as well as Mesut Ozil who has previously struggled to fit into the starting eleven. 

Hector Bellerin is still out with an ACL injury, and Aaron Ramsey has a hamstring issue. 

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has not travelled with the squad to Baku for safety reasons due to his Armenian nationality. 

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Chelsea team news

Sarri will most likely adopt his usual 4-3-3 formation with Jorginho used as the pivot in central midfield. 

Gonzalo Higuain was involved in an altercation with David Luiz during open training at Baku Olympic Stadium, which may suggest Olivier Giroud, the competition's top goal-scorer, is starting.

Kante, who has been struggling with a hamstring problem, is now a major doubt after managing just 25 minutes of the same final warm-up session.

Antonio Rudiger and Callum Hudson-Odoi remain sidelined, as well as Ruben Loftus-Cheek who sustained an ankle injury and has since had surgery following a strange decision to play a charity match in the United States of America

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