Who Will Win the Europa League Final?

It’s fair to say that we have already had plenty of drama and a fair degree of controversy in the build up to this week’s Europa League final. The choice of venue, the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan, has been heavily criticised not just for its remote location, but also for how difficult it is for fans to reach. This has been exacerbated somewhat by the fact that the two finalists this years are based just a few miles apart in London, Chelsea and Arsenal.

There has also been the somewhat disgraceful situation enforced on Arsenal who will have to travel to play the game in Baku without one of their key players, Armenian midfielder Henrik Mkhitaryan, whose country is in a political dispute with Azerbaijan and who would likely not be allowed to enter the country. It is staggering to think that UEFA would have taken the money on offer from Azerbaijan with this situation still very much in place.

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Even so, and despite only a relatively small number of fans from Arsenal and Chelsea set to make the trip from London to Baku, it still promises to be an exciting matchup between the teams that finished third and fifth in the Premier League this season.

If you fancy a bet on the Europa League Final this week then bet365 Sport has a wealth of different betting markets available on the game. You can bet on a range of markets both pre-match and also In Play on the site. If you are not yet a member, the latest bet365 New Player Bonus offers you a great incentivised way to sign up and start playing on the site and with the Champions League final coming up on Saturday too, you’ll have two huge football games to enjoy before the season’s end.

Let’s now preview the game on Wednesday night and how the two teams have fared in the competition this season, before we preview how we think the final will turn out and who will eventually lift the trophy into the air in the early hours of the morning in Baku.

Let’s now take a look at how both teams have performed in the competition this season.

Arsenal’s Road to Baku

The Gunners were drawn into Group E along with Sporting Lisbon, Qarabag and Vorskla and made light work of progressing to the knockout phase, picking up 16 of the 18 points available to them to finish well clear at the top of the group.

Group Stage Results

  • Matchday 1 – Arsenal 4-2 Vorskla (Aubameyang 32,56, Welbeck 48, Ozil 74)
  • Matchday 2 – Qarabag 0-3 Arsenal (Papasthatopoulos 4, Smith Rowe 53, Guendouzi 79)
  • Matchday 3 – Sporting Lisbon 0-1 Arsenal (Welbeck 77)
  • Matchday 4 – Arsenal 0-0 Sporting Lisbon
  • Matchday 5 – Vorskla 0-3 Arsenal (Smith Rowe 10, Ramsey 27(p), Willock 41)
  • Matchday 6 – Arsenal 1-0 Qarabag (Lacazette 16)

Group Stage Standings

  1. Arsenal – 16 pts (+10)
  2. Sporting – 13 pts (+10)
  3. Vorskla – 3 pts (-9)
  4. Qarabag – 3 pts (-11)

In the Knockout phase the Gunners have tasted defeat twice on the road, in Borisov and Rennes, but have produced strong performances in the home leg to go through. Oddly, their best away performances and victories came against much stronger opposition in the latter stages of the tournament, Napoli and Valencia.

Knockout Phase Results

  • Round of 32 – 1st Leg – BATE Borisov 1-0 Arsenal
  • Round of 32 – 2nd Leg – Arsenal 3-0 BATE Borisov (Volkov og 4, Mustafi 39, Papasthatopoulos 60) – Arsenal win 3-1 on aggregate
  • Round of 16 – 1st Leg – Rennes 3-1 Arsenal (Iwobi 3)
  • Round of 16 – 2nd Leg – Arsenal 3-0 Rennes (Aubameyang 3,72, Maitland-Niles 15) – Arsenal win 4-3 on aggregate
  • Quarterfinal – 1st Leg – Arsenal 2-0 Napoli (Ramsey 14, Koulibaly OG 25)
  • Quarterfinal – 2nd Leg – Napoli 0-1 Arsenal (Lacazette 36) – Arsenal win 3-0 on aggregate
  • Semifinal – 1st Leg – Arsenal 3-1 Valencia (Lacazette 18,25, Aubameyang 90)
  • Semifinal – 2nd Leg – Valencia 2-4 Arsenal (Aubameyang 17,69,88, Lacazette 50) – Arsenal win 7-3 on aggregate

Arsenal Team News

The Gunners will not just be missing Mkhitaryan from their team for this game as they have a number of possible first team players, including Welshman Aaron Ramsey, absent through injury, Bellerin and Holding amongst those who will miss out. The Gunners will likely adopt a flexible 5-3-2 (3-5-2 when attacking) formation which allows them to play their most attacking trio of players, Lacazette, Ozil and Aubameyang.

Arsenal Team – 5-3-2

  • Gk – Bernd Leno
  • DMr – Ainsley Maitland-Niles
  • DMl – Sead Kolasinac
  • Dc – Stathis Papasthatopoulos
  • Dc – Shkodran Mustafi
  • Dc – Laurent Koscielny
  • DMc – Lucas Torreira
  • DMc – Matteo Guendouzi
  • AMc – Mesut Ozil
  • Ac – Alexander Lacazette
  • Ac – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Chelsea’s Road to Baku

Chelsea ended up being draw into the last group, L, in the group stage alongside Hungarian side Vidi, BATE Borisov of Bulgaria and PAOK Salonika of Greece. They too made very easy progress in the group stage dropping just two points from the 18 available to win their group comfortably.

Group Stage

  • Matchday 1 – PAOK 0-1 Chelsea (Willian 7)
  • Matchday 2 – Chelsea 1-0 Vidi (Morata 70)
  • Matchday 3 – Chelsea 3-1 BATE Borisov (Loftus-Cheek 2, 8, 53)
  • Matchday 4 – BATE Borisov 0-1 Chelsea (Giroud 52)
  • Matchday 5 – Chelsea 4-0 PAOK Salonika (Giroud 27, 37, Hudson Odoi 60, Morata 78)
  • Matchday 6 – Vidi 2-2 Chelsea (Willian 30, Giroud 75)

Group Stage Standings

  1. Chelsea – 16 pts (+9)
  2. BATE Borisov – 9 pts (0)
  3. Vidi – 7 pts (-2)
  4. PAOK – 3 pts (-7)

Chelsea made very easy progress through the first two rounds in the knockout phase with routine wins, home and away, over Malmo and Dynamo Kyiv, however despite winning away against Slavia Prague they were pushed hard at home by the Czech side and they were really tested by Eintracht Frankfurt in the semifinals, drawing both legs 1-1 and only progressing thanks to victory via a penalty shootout.

Knockout Phase

  • Round of 32 – 1st Leg – Malmo 1-2 Chelsea (Barkley 30, Giroud 58)
  • Round of 32 – 2nd Leg – Chelsea 3-0 Malmo (Giroud 55, Barkley 74, Hudson Odoi 84) – Chelsea win 5-1 on aggregate
  • Round of 16 – 1st Leg – Chelsea 3-0 Dynamo Kyiv (Pedro 17, Willian 65, Hudson Odoi 90)
  • Round of 16 – 2nd Leg – Dynamo Kyiv 0-5 Chelsea (Giroud 5, 33, 59, Alonso 45, Hudson Odoi 78) – Chelsea win 8-0 on aggregate
  • Quarterfinal – 1st Leg – Slavia Prague 0-1 Chelsea (Alonso 86)
  • Quarterfinal – 2nd Leg – Chelsea 4-3 Slavia Prague (Pedro 5, 27, Deli OG 9, Giroud 17) – Chelsea win 5-3 on aggregate
  • Semifinal – 1st Leg – Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Chelsea (Pedro 45)
  • Semifinal – 2nd Leg – Chelsea 1-1 (Loftus Cheek 28) – 2-2 on aggregate – Chelsea won 4-3 on penalties.

Chelsea Team News

Chelsea’s biggest injury worry is over N’Golo Kante, with the Frenchman believed to be struggling to be fit for the game. If he is absent this will likely mean Ross Barkley will start in midfield alongside Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic. The Blues will also be without the injured England duo of Callum Hudson Odoi and Ruben Loftus Cheek. Mauricio Sarri has a decision to make over to play in attack with it being a choice between Olivier Giroud, who has netted ten goals in the competition this season, or Sarri’s preferred first choice Gonzalo Higuain.

Chelsea Team – 4-3-3

  • Gk – Kepa Arrizabalaga
  • Dr – Cesar Azpilicueta
  • Dl – Marcos Alonso
  • Dc – Antonio Rudiger
  • Dc – David Luiz
  • DMc – Jorginho
  • Mc – Mateo Kovacic
  • Mc – Ross Barkley
  • AMr – Willian
  • AMl – Eden Hazard
  • Ac – Gonzalo Higuain

Arsenal v Chelsea Tips

My first tip is on the Full Time Result market and given that both the games this season have resulted in wins for the home team, Chelsea winning 3-2 back in August and Arsenal winning 2-0 in January, I think with this game being played on a neutral venue, this means a tight game is likely. As such, I feel it may well take extra time to decide the winner, which means for the Full Time Result bet, I’d back the draw option at 12/5 with bet365.

Similarly, if you wanted to bet on the Correct Score, my pick would be for this game to finish 1-1 at 90 minutes and that is a 5/1 option at bet365.

Ny final bet would be an Anytime Goalscorer bet and I think Eden Hazard at 13/8 is the value bet here as he has a great record against Arsenal and is likely playing his last game for Chelsea ahead of a move to Real Madrid in the summer. He is the star man in this game too and add to that the fact he is Chelsea’s penalty taker, he is the sensible goalscorer bet in my view.