Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri admitted that his team are short in midfield, but N'Golo Kanté has passed a late fitness test. Arsenal have four players ruled out.
The Olympic stadium in Baku hosts this evening’s 2019 Europa League final – one final chance for Chelsea and Arsenal to finish the season with silverware – and for Unai Emery’s team to sneak into next year’s Champions League. Chelsea are already there of course regardless of tonight’s result. The Gunners ended the season fifth in the Premier League – just two points behind Chelsea who finished third. Arsenal beat Maurizio Sarri’s team home but were edged 3-2 at Stamford Bridge when they met in the league but the Gunners go into tonight’s final as underdogs for the bookies.
One man who will have something about that is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who has been superb for Arsenal since the season started and ended with 31 goals, sharing the Golden Boot award with Liverpool pair Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané.
Both teams ended the league campaign with mixed results – Arsenal perhaps looking stronger in their semi-final against Valencia. For Chelsea, it’s been a tempestuous year – they’ve been hit with a one-year transfer ban and head into tonight’s game with the threat they might lose top scorer Eden Hazard who has been linked with a move to Real Madrid.
As for the history books, Chelsea lifted the trophy in 2013 after beating Benfica but this will be Arsenal’s second crack at winning it – they lost the 1999-2000 final on penalties to Galatasaray. It’s not the first time that two clubs from the same country have met in the final – there have been several examples of that but this will be only the second time that two English clubs have contested the trophy – the first being Tottenham and Wolves in the first edition of the tournament, back in 1972...
Chelsea vs Arsenal line-ups
Chelsea XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Christensen, David Luiz, Emerson; Kovacic, Jorginho, Kante; Pedro, Hazard, Giroud.
Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Emerson, Kanté, Pedro, Higuaín.
Arsenal XI: Cech; Sokratis, Koschielny, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Maitland-Niles, Özil, Kolasinac, Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Subs: Leno, Elneny, Iwobi, Mustafi, Guendouzi, Welbeck, Nketiah.
Chelsea vs Arsenal: injuries and suspensions
Maurizio Sarri goes into the game without Rudiger, Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek. Two players face late fitness tests – Gary Cahill has been struggling to shake off an Achilles problem while N’Golo Kanté is nursing a knee injury - Sarri says he has a 50:50 chance of being declared fit.
As for Arsenal, Aaron Ramsey is ruled out with a hamstring injury, Denis Suárez hasn’t recovered from a groin problem while knee injuries keep Héctor Bellerín and Rob Holding sidelined. Mkhitaryan didn’t travel with the squad to Baku.
Chelsea v Arsenal: what the managers said
Maurizio Sarri: “Kanté had a little problem on Saturday, a very little problem with his knee. It’s not really a very serious injury. The problem is the timing because we had only four days to try to recover him. We are trying. At the moment we don’t know. We will try until the last moment. We will try tomorrow, but at the moment we don’t know. The problem is the timing because we had only four days to try; yesterday 60/40, today 50/50. He was a little bit better this morning. But we are in trouble in midfield. At the moment we have only three midfielders for three positions. N’Golo is really important for us. He is the only defensive midfielder we have. Without N’Golo it’s a problem for just to recover him. We are trying. At the moment we don’t know. We will try until the last moment. We will try tomorrow, but at the moment we don’t know”
Unai Emery: “Every one of us is keen to do something important and for example we have something important here with this trophy. We deserve to play this. We’ve performed well in this competition and we believe we can do something together. We started with two targets, one is to win the Europa League and the second is reaching the Champions League through the Premier League. We can do two objectives tomorrow. We can win one title and also play with the opportunity to go to the Champions League. Above all we want to enjoy and play with all our good spirit and also I think this competition is improving a lot and over the last years big teams have played in the final. I hope that in the future Chelsea and Arsenal could be a final in the Champions League! We have a lot of very good players and some of the best players in the world, so it’s a very good moment for football in the world. ".