So, it’s finally here, the final match of Arenal’s season all the way out in Baku.
The game itself hasn’t really been the focus of much talk while the build-up and state of things for supporters in Baku have grabbed all the headlines. It’s time to set that to the side for now and get on with supporting the team against Chelsea.
The match, as we know, is much more important for Arsenal so we can hope that has held their focus over the last few weeks since the end of the domestic season. Hopefully Chelsea, on the other hand, will already be on holiday.
Here’s how the teams will lineup:
Arsenal: Cech, Monreal, Kos, Sokratis, Xhaka, Torreira, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Ozil, Auba, Lacazette
Chelsea: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Christensen, David Luiz, Emerson; Kanté, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard.
Be sure to check out our liveblog if you can’t watch the game.
Stats & facts via UEFA
Chelsea and Arsenal make the journey east from London to Baku’s Olympic Stadium, where they have both previously won against local champions Qarabağ, to contest the first major European club competition final between two English clubs in 11 years, and only the third in UEFA history.
• It is the third UEFA Europa League final between clubs from the same nation, the first having brought Portugal’s Porto a 1-0 win in Dublin against Braga in 2011 before Atlético Madrid defeated Athletic Club 3-0 in an all-Spanish encounter in Bucharest 12 months later.
• Chelsea are unbeaten in their 14 UEFA Europa League matches this term (W11 D3). They dominated Group L in the autumn before eliminating Malmö, Dynamo Kyiv, Slavia Praha and, on penalties, Eintracht Frankfurt to reach the final.
• Arsenal arrive in Azerbaijan on a five-match winning run in the competition. They cruised through to the knockout phase from Group E, dropping just two points and qualifying with two games to spare, but they had a scare in both the round of 32 and round of 16 against BATE Borisov and Rennes respectively before winning home and away in both
the quarter-final against Napoli and the semi-final against Valencia.
• While Chelsea have already secured a berth in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League group stage by finishing third in the Premier League, Arsenal’s fifth-place finish means they will qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League only with victory in Baku.
• While the London rivals are familiar domestic opponents, they have been paired together just once before in UEFA competition. Chelsea got the better of Arsenal in the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals when they followed up a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge with a 2-1 comeback win at Highbury, left-back Wayne Bridge striking the
decisive goal for Claudio Ranieri’s side three minutes from time.
• Although Chelsea were defeated on penalties by Manchester United in that most recent all-English final, the 2008 UEFA Champions League showpiece in Moscow (after a 1-1 draw), their overall UEFA competition record against fellow English opposition has yielded just four defeats in 17 encounters. Two of those came in their most recent tie,
when they lost home (0-1) and away (1-2) to Manchester United in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.
• Arsenal have never won a UEFA competition match against another English club in six attempts (D2 L4), their last three all ending in defeat – at Liverpool in the second leg of their 2007/08 UEFA Champions League quarter-final (2-4) and in both legs of the following season’s semi-final against Manchester United (0-1 away, 1-3 home).
• In the UEFA Europa League group stage for the first time this season, Chelsea eased through to the knockout phase, doing the double over PAOK (1-0 away, 4-0 home) and BATE Borisov (3-1 home, 1-0 away) before Vidi, who had lost 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, denied them a clean sweep with a 2-2 draw in Budapest on matchday six.
• In the round of 32, the Blues defeated Malmö away (2-1) and at home (3-0) before sweeping aside Dynamo Kyiv (3-0 home, 5-0 away). They then made it six wins in a row against Slavia Praha in the quarter-finals (1-0 away, 4-3 home) before Frankfurt took them all the way to penalties in the last four (1-1 away, 1-1 home), Eden Hazard converting the decisive spot kick at Stamford Bridge.
• This is Chelsea’s second appearance in the UEFA Europa League final, their first in 2013 having brought a 2-1 victory over Benfica in Amsterdam thanks to Branislav Ivanović’s added-time winner. That was the club’s only previous UEFA Europa League participation.
• Chelsea are now a record 17 games unbeaten in the UEFA Europa League, including the last three matches of that victorious 2013 campaign, with 14 wins in those matches.
• The west Londoners are the top-scoring team in this season’s competition with 32 goals, five short of the UEFA Europa League record set by Porto in 2010/11.
• UEFA Champions League ever-presents for 19 successive seasons until last term, Arsenal reached the UEFA Europa League semi-finals at the first attempt, going out to eventual winners Atlético.
• This season they breezed through their group, an opening 4-2 win at home to Vorskla Poltava preceding four wins and a draw in which they conceded no further goals. The first of those games was in the Baku Olympic Stadium, where they defeated home side Qarabağ 3-0 with Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Matteo Guendouzi both scoring their first goals for the club.
• That competition record-equalling run of five clean sheets ended at BATE, where they lost 1-0 before recovering to win 3-0 at home. It was a similar comeback tale in the round of 16, a 3-1 defeat at Rennes preceding another 3-0 home victory, before a 1-0 win at Napoli supplemented a first-leg 2-0 home win. Valencia were then overcome 7-3 on aggregate in the semi-final (3-1 home, 4-2 away), strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (four) and Alexandre Lacazette (three) sharing the goals between them.
• Arsenal have never previously featured in the UEFA Europa League final, though they did reach the final of the UEFA Cup in 1999/2000 which they lost 4-1 on penalties to Galatasaray after a 0-0 draw in Copenhagen.
• The Gunners are currently on their longest winning streak in the UEFA Europa League – five matches – having never previously managed more than three victories in a row.
Previous UEFA finals
Chelsea (W5 L3)
1970/71 European Cup Winners’ Cup replay 2-1 v Real Madrid (after 1-1 draw)
1997/98 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 1-0 v Stuttgart
1998 UEFA Super Cup 1-0 v Real Madrid
2007/08 UEFA Champions League 1-1 v Manchester United (5-6 on penalties)
2011/12 UEFA Champions League 1-1 v Bayern München (4-3 on penalties)
2012 UEFA Super Cup 1-4 v Atlético Madrid
2012/13 UEFA Europa League 2-1 v Benfica
2013 UEFA Super Cup 2-2 v Bayern München (4-5 on penalties)
Arsenal (W1 L5)
1979/80 European Cup Winners’ Cup 0-0 v Valencia (4-5 on penalties)
1993/94 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 1-0 v Parma
1994 UEFA Super Cup 0-2 agg v AC Milan (0-0 h, 0-2 a)
1994/95 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 1-2 v Zaragoza
1999/00 UEFA Cup 0-0 v Galatasaray (1-4 on penalties)
2005/06 UEFA Champions League 1-2 v Barcelona
• This is the tenth UEFA Europa League final. The previous nine have yielded 24 goals at an average of 2.667 per game. The biggest winning margin is 3-0, achieved twice by Atlético Madrid, against Athletic Club (2012) and Marseille (2018). The final with the most goals was Sevilla’s 3-2 victory over Dnipro in 2015.
• Arsenal boss Unai Emery was the coach of Sevilla in all three of their successive UEFA Europa League triumphs from 2013/14 to 2015/16.
• Atlético and Sevilla have both won all three of the UEFA Europa League finals in which they have participated, sharing the record number of victories.
• There have been four previous UEFA Europa League finalists from England, most recently Manchester United, who lifted the trophy after a 2-0 win against Ajax in 2017. Chelsea are the first of those four to appear for the second time.
• Arsenal are the 14th different club to have reached the UEFA Europa League final – and would be the sixth to win the competition.
• There has never been a sending-off in a UEFA Europa League final.
• Only one penalty has been awarded in a UEFA Europa League final. It was successfully converted by Óscar Cardozo for Benfica against Chelsea in 2013.
• The only previous UEFA Europa League final decided by a penalty shoot-out was in 2014, when Sevilla defeated Benfica 4-2 on spot-kicks after a 0-0 draw in Turin.
• Five players have scored twice in the fixture – Diego Forlán (Atlético) in 2010, Radamel Falcao (Atlético) in 2012, Carlos Bacca (Sevilla) in 2015, Coke (Sevilla) in 2016 and Antoine Griezmann (Atlético) in 2018; there has yet to be a hat-trick.
• Falcao is the only player to have scored in two UEFA Europa League finals; he also got Porto’s winner in 2011.
• The youngest player to have competed on the winning side in a UEFA Europa League final is Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford (2017) at 19 years 206 days; the oldest is Chelsea’s Frank Lampard (2013) at 34 years 329 days.
• Should Chelsea win the final, Maurizio Sarri will be the UEFA Europa League’s oldest winning coach at 60 years 139 days, eclipsing José Mourinho, who was aged 54 years 118 days when he led Manchester United to victory in 2017. It will also be the first major trophy of the Italian coach’s career.
Links and trivia
• Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Čech, who will be retiring after the final, joined the Gunners from Chelsea in 2015 after 11 years with the west London club during which he won 13 major trophies.
• Čech was a UEFA Europa League winner in 2013 alongside César Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Eden Hazard. The latter missed the final against Benfica through injury.
• Olivier Giroud joined Chelsea from Arsenal in January 2018 after five and a half years with the Gunners, during which he scored 105 goals in 253 appearances in all competitions, and was a three-time FA Cup winner.
• Giroud is the joint top scorer in this season’s UEFA Europa League, with ten goals – level with Luka Jović of Eintracht Frankfurt. Arsenal’s leading marksman in the competition is Aubameyang, a hat-trick scorer last time out at Valencia, with eight.
• Willian has provided seven assists in the competition, putting him level at the top of the charts with Igor Stasevich of BATE.
• The Brazilian winger scored twice in the Baku Olympic Stadium as Chelsea won 4-0 against Qarabağ in last season’s UEFA Champions League group stage, Hazard having opened the scoring from the penalty spot.
• Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil was a runner-up ten years ago in the last UEFA Cup final, his Werder Bremen side losing 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk in Istanbul. Willian was a member of the triumphant Shakhtar team.
• Chelsea and Arsenal each beat each other at home in this season’s Premier League, the Blues winning 3-2 in August, the Gunners 2-0 in January. The clubs have met 197 times, Arsenal boasting 76 wins to Chelsea’s 63.
• Chelsea’s run of 17 UEFA Europa League games without defeat has eclipsed the competition record of 15 set by Atlético in October 2012. No previous UEFA Europa League winner has gone through the competition undefeated.
• Chelsea’s record in five UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L3:
1-4 v Liverpool, 2006/07 UEFA Champions League semi-final
5-6 v Manchester United, 2007/08 UEFA Champions League final
4-3 v Bayern München, 2011/12 UEFA Champions League final
4-5 v Bayern München, 2013 UEFA Super Cup
4-3 v Eintracht Frankfurt, 2018/19 UEFA Europa League semi-final
• Arsenal’s record in four UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L2:
4-5 v Valencia, 1979/80 European Cup Winners’ Cup final
3-2 v Sampdoria, 1994/95 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final
1-4 v Galatasaray, 1999/2000 UEFA Cup final
7-6 v Roma, 2008/09 UEFA Champions League round of 16
• Named as the new Chelsea boss in succession to his fellow Italian, Antonio Conte, in July 2018, Maurizio Sarri is considered to be one of Europe’s most progressive coaches. He paid his dues in Italy’s lower leagues with a multitude of clubs before getting his big break at Empoli, whom he steered into Serie A, and then replaced Rafael Benítez at
Napoli in 2015. Three seasons in Naples all brought top-three finishes, his entertaining side running Juventus close for the Scudetto in 2017/18.
• After two years with Paris Saint-Germain that yielded seven domestic trophies, Unai Emery was appointed as Arsenal manager in May 2018, replacing the long-serving Arsène Wenger. The Spaniard oversaw Sevilla’s historic hat-trick of successes in the UEFA Europa League from 2013/14 to 2015/16, having assumed control following a four-year tenure at Valencia and a brief stint at Spartak Moskva. He has been in charge of more UEFA Europa League games than any other coach, this being his 74th.