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Arsenal or Chelsea? offers its Europa League Final tips

Leigh Copson 13 May 2019
Who will lift the Europa League Trophy? (credit:Insidefoto/Imago/PA Images)

For the first time ever two English clubs are going head-to-head in the Europa League Final, and ahead of the big May 29 clash in Baku, Azerbaijan our resident writers, Ben Darvill and Leigh Copson, have been discussing how the all-Premier League clash.

Can Unai Emery conjure up some more Europa League magic to lead Arsenal to glory and a place in the next season’s Champions League, or will Maurizio Sarri ensure his maiden – and perhaps only – season as Chelsea boss ends in glory. Read on…

Match Bet

Ben: The first of the all-Premier League finals brings a London derby in Baku, with a chance for one of these massive sides to claim a trophy this season. Chelsea got here by stumbling through a semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt, but what was really impressive was their resolve as they held on against a German side that gave as good as they got. Arsenal on the other hand blew Valencia away in Spain in a performance that was hugely impressive, but these showings are rarely followed by another constituent outing. Unai Emery may have something of a love-affair with the Europa League, but Arsenal’s inability to make the most out of their incredible assets up front due to their backline being so weak means we can’t really look to back them. Chelsea may not be as good at the back as they have been in recent years, but they are still better than Arsenal defensively, and we think that the likely-departure of Eden Hazard this summer will spur them on in a game they will be desperate to win in order to deprive Arsenal of a trophy, whilst securing the first of the Maurizio Sarri reign. 

Leigh: Ben and the bookmakers have got behind Chelsea for the Europa League Final, making Maurizio Sarri’s side the odds-on favourites ‘to lift the trophy’, but I believe you can take on the bookies and back Arsenal to spring an ‘upset’ in Baku. Don’t get me wrong, the Gunners have shown a horrible knack for cracking under the pressure under the past year or so, but what cannot be overlooked is how they have fought and scrapped to make it this far. Yes the stumbled at BATE Borisov and Rennes, but they showed their nerve to come roaring back in those ties and the way they dispatched Napoli in the quarter-finals and Valencia in the semi-finals was very impressive. And of course, in Unai Emery they have a man who has become something of a Europa League ‘master’ during his managerial career. The Spaniard led Sevilla to glory Europa League glory in three consecutive seasons between 2014 and 2017, and only once did his team need more than 90 minutes to get the job done. I believe he will get his hands on this trophy for a fourth time after Arsenal dispatch Chelsea in regulation time in the 2019 Final.

Goalscorer Bet

Leigh: If I am backing Arsenal for glory I have to my goalscorer selection from their ranks, and right now you are spoiled for choice when it comes to the two Arsenal strikers. Alex Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have struck up a lethal partnership and they have played an integral role in the Gunners’ run to the final, providing the club’s last eight goals in the Europa League. Both men are more than capable of adding to their European tally against Chelsea, and although Aubameyang is yet to find the back of the Blues’ net since arriving in North London, I simply cannot look past him. The Gabon international has been in fantastic form over the past month or so and was simply unstoppable as he rattled in a hat-trick during Arsenal’s 4-2 semi-final win at Valencia. If he is firing on all cylinders in Baku then there is every chance that he will fire the Gunners to the trophy and help end their Champions League exile.

Ben: I have to agree with Leigh on this one - I cannot look to back anyone other than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score in this one as he has been absolutely outstanding this year. The Premier League Golden Boot went to the Arsenal forward along with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane after the Gunners’ star netted a brace on the final day, but he could have scooped the prize outright if he had netted any of the chances he spurned. In the Europa League this year, Aubameyang has scored eight goals across the campaign including an awesome hat-trick that defeated Valencia in the semi-final. His pace is frightening when he is one-on-one with a defender or running in behind, while his finishing ability has seen him in scintillating form of late, and if the Blues give him a chance to score, which I think they will as their backline is far from solid, then he will likely get on the scoresheet once again. 

Banker Bet

Ben: My banker bet is that both teams will score in this one. While Arsenal have been superb going forward, scoring 73 goals in 38 games in the league, and Chelsea can turn it on at any moment especially when Hazard picks up the ball, while most importantly, neither of their defences can be accused of being solid. 39 goals conceded in 38 games for the Blues and 51 in 38 for the Gunners is an awful total, while the struggles of Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi in particular has been a huge talking point this year. With so much attacking talent on show, we think it is incredibly likely that neither goalkeeper will enjoy a clean sheet in this one as the men in front of them have not been able to defend right across the campaign. 

Leigh: Of all the bets that I could pick out for the Europa League Final this is the one I would be most confident about – and the bonus is that it is not odds-on! Several times this season I have written about Arsenal’s success has largely depended on their ability to get ahead early in games. Backing Arsenal to lead after 30 minutes has delivered winning bet on several occasions for me this season, and it has been a successful selection for all but three of their last 19 competitive victories – a very impressive statistic. And if you want to look solely at the Europa League then here is a statistic that really stands out – Arsenal have needed before the interval in 12 of their 15 fixtures. So there you have it – when the Gunners score early they are usually successful and I expect them to beat Chelsea in the final, so backing Unai Emery’s men to score a first-half goal feels like a ‘no-brainer’ to me.

Bold Prediction

Leigh: Having gone with Arsenal for my three previous predictions I may as well stick with the Gunners for my bold prediction, which is backing Unai Emery’s men to win this match by a score of 2-1 in 90 minutes. The Gunners did run out 2-0 winners when they entertained Chelsea in the Premier League back in January and they have managed a couple of clean sheets recently, but they continue to look very ropey at the back and you would never write off any top-flight side scoring against them. What bails Arsenal out is the ability they have at the other end – the chemistry between Alex Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is there for all to see and when they are in top form they have a nightmare for opposition defences. That does pile pressure on them to make up for Arsenal’s defensive deficiencies, just like it did in the semi-finals, but they have repeatedly coped under that pressure and they could flourish under it again in the Europa League Football. So when you couple that with the fact Arsenal have scored exactly two goals in four of their last five meetings with Chelsea, you have to like the chances of 2-1 to Arsenal being the correct score here.

Ben: What a season it has been for Aubameyang, with his ability to score goals something that has helped to force Arsenal towards a trophy this year, although they have gone kicking and screaming at times as their performances in the closing stages of the season in particular have made it seem as though they do not want silverware this year. The raw speed of the striker makes him one of the most lethal forwards in the Premier League, and he is perfectly adapted to playing in England’s top league, as he is designed for standing on the shoulder of the last defender or running in behind the opposition with his pace, making it more than likely that he will get on the end of the ball, while his ability to find the back of the net if something that makes him incredibly dangerous. Against Valencia, his ability to score was on full show as he displayed his incredible repertoire of finishes, and he will target the likes of David Luiz and whoever partners him, with none of Chelsea’s centre-halves particularly consistent this year. Scoring two goals in a final is something few players do, as the showpiece event is often one that gets the better of person, but this is not something we think the forward will suffer from. A hat-trick in the semi-final of the Europa League preceded a brace on the final day of the Premier League season (which could and probably should have been another hat-trick), which shows he comes into this one in great form, and I think that he, of all the players in this final, has the best chance of netting a brace or more. 

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Arsenal or Chelsea? offers its Europa League Final tips writers Ben Darvill and Leigh Copson pick out their favourite bets for the Europa League Final between Arsenal and Chelsea.

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