Chelsea vs Arsenal
Uefa Europa League Final 2018-19
Venue: Baku Olympic Stadium, Azerbaijan
Date: Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Kick-off time: 8:00pm BST
London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal meet in an all-English Europa League Final at the end of May, with plenty at stake for both clubs.
Maurizio Sarri is yet to win a trophy during his managerial career, but is now just one match away from ending a chaotic season with tangible success.
Sarri appeared to be in danger of being ousted at numerous points of his debut year in England, but a Europa League triumph – coupled with the club’s improbable third-placed Premier League finish – would represent a fine campaign for the Italian.
As for Arsenal, finishing fifth in the table means victory in Baku is a must for Champions League football next season – but thankfully for Gunners fans, Unai Emery is a Europa League specialist having won the trophy with Sevilla in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Sarri is confident that N’Golo Kante will be ready for the Final, with the French midfielder having had a couple of weeks’ rest to recover from a thigh injury.
Antonio Rudiger is definitely ruled out after undergoing knee surgery, as is Callum Hudson-Odoi following Achilles surgery.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek would have likely got the nod in midfield over Mateo Kovacic, but the England international suffered a serious Achilles injury during the Blues’ trip to Boston to face New England Revolution in the club’s ‘Final Whistle on Hate’ friendly.
Sarri faces a big call on whether to start Olivier Giroud or Gonzalo Higuain up front, though the former should get the nod given that he is the Europa League’s joint-top scorer with 10 goals.
Chelsea XI [4-3-3]: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard
Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss the Europa League Final after Arsenal failed to receive sufficient assurances from UEFA over his safety in Azerbaijan.
The Gunners confirmed they have made the decision the 30-year-old should not travel to Baku next week amid political tensions between Azerbaijan and Mkhitaryan’s birthplace, Armenia, over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Arsenal were unsatisfied that Mkhitaryan would be protected and after lengthy discussions with his family, there were also fears expressed about the reaction in Armenia if he opted to make the 6,000-mile round trip.
Aaron Ramsey meanwhile will not have the chance to sign off in style, with the Juventus-bound midfielder ruled out with a thigh injury.
Hector Bellerin (knee), Rob Holding (knee), Danny Welbeck (ankle) and Denis Suarez (groin) are all out as well.
There is better news for Gunners fans with Petr Cech fit for the last game of his professional career – a fitting end for the goalkeeper, considering it comes against his former club.
Arsenal XI [3-4-1-2]: Cech; Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil; Aubameyang, Lacazette
Chelsea vs Arsenal