Arsenal v Chelsea: the preview, the teams, the managers’ records and Wrighty.

By Bulldog Drummond

All told it has been a far from happy build up to the Europa League final, although just as the FA always shrug off problems at Wembley cup finals and carry on doing their own thing, I am sure Uefa haven’t even noticed that fans are not ecstatic about the journey nor that locals don’t like having a match on at 11pm.  These just aren’t the sort of things Uefa care about.

The Daily Mail has been having a dig at Chelsea for offering no help to their supporters in terms of the travel, expense and logistics of getting to Azerbaijan.  Nor indeed complaining to Uefa about the insanity of holding the game in a venue

But the story is that both clubs have returned huge numbers of tickets to Uefa and these have been on sale for days via the Uefa website (on which Uefa is also claiming the game is a sell out while offering tickets), so any thought of segregation has long gone out of the window.

The Independent website claims that over 6000 tickets were returned by the clubs, and a number of papers have reported the boycott of the match by Arsenal fans who are taking a stand of solidarity with Henrikh Mkhitaryan.  Over 13,000 Arsenal fans are said to have signed a petition to have the event moved to Wembley – although of course there was never any chance of that.

Such reports as there are quoting numbers of fans, suggest that each side got 6,000 tickets, Arsenal sold 3,500 and Chelsea 2,000.  The stadium holds 60,000 and apparently 37,000 of these have been on general sale.   And why not?

Looking at the managers we may note that Maurizio Sarri is lacking in titles and cups to his name.  He got the Serie B runners up away in 2014 and was runner up in the EFL cup with Chelsea this year.  He was Serie A coach of the year in 2017 but that’s about the long and the short.

Meanwhile the anti-Arsenal Arsenal brigade of bloggers and journalists have spent so much time telling us that Unai Emery is a second ranking manager that it is sometimes easy to slip into that sort of thinking, but in fact his cv is rather impressive:

  • Europa League winning 2014, 2015, 2016 (all with Sevilla)
  • Ligue 1 Champions with PSG 2018
  • Coupe de France with PSG 2017, 2018
  • Coupe de la Ligue with PSG 2017, 2018
  • European Coach of the Season 2014

It shows a certain pedigree and fighting spirit – even though PSG have the mega billions of middle eastern currency that now guarantees trophies, he still had to do the job.

One other snippet, this is not the first all-English European final.    The first ever 1972 Uefa Cup Final (precursor of the Europa League) saw Wolverhampton take on Tottenham Hots in a two legged affair on 3 and 17 May.  The Tiny Totts won 3-2 on aggregate.

As for the teams today Chelsea have Cahill and Kante listed as a “slight doubt” on the Physioroom website, with Loftus-Cheek, Rudiger, Hudson-Odoi, Ampadu and van Ginkel as all unavailable.

For Arsenal Mavropanos, Ramsey, Suarez, Bellerin, Holding and Welbeck are unavailable – although curiously the site has Welbeck listed as a “slight doubt”.

As you will probably know this is the first Europa League fixture to use VAR, and to have the option of using a fourth sub if the final goes to extra time.  The trophy, we are told, weighs 15kg, and has no handles.

Ian Wright has been chatting away about the game as usual, and he said,  “Arsenal’s away form has not been great this season, but the last couple of games it has sort of kicked in.

“I wouldn’t say Valencia were an amazing team but I thought Arsenal dealt with them ruthlessly and I think that Chelsea have the kind of defence that if you can get at them you can cause problems. Especially Lacazette and Aubameyang.

“But at the same time, Arsenal’s defence has been a weakness this season and when you have someone like Hazard, who is going to be marauding in there, Arsenal haven’t got that naturally defence-minded midfielder who can pick him up in there as someone like Kante could, so Hazard could be a problem.   And when you look at him in what could be his last game for Chelsea he’s going to want to go out in a blaze of glory and win something so you have to say there is an argument for both teams.

“Obviously I want Arsenal to win and I think Arsenal might just nick it simply because of the two guys up front.”

Rileys, a website we’ve not quoted before has the Arsenal team as


Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal,

Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac,


Lacazette, Aubameyang.

Bleacher Report have an “everything you need to know” but don’t even take a potshot at the possible teams.  The Standard however has had a go and they have…


Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal

Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac,


Lacazette, Aubameyang

which as you can see simply has our regular Europa keeper rather than moving over to Leno.

The Hard Tackle goes with the Riley’s line up, and by and large most blogs and papers are going with this line up with either Leno or Cech in goal.

So there we are.  We shall see.  Fingers and everything else crossed.

39 Replies to “Arsenal v Chelsea: the preview, the teams, the managers’ records and Wrighty.”

  1. Unai Emery’s Europa League finals so far:

    Sevilla v Benfica 0-0, 4-2 on penalties (one of the misses for Benfica was by Rodrigo, a lad who plays for Valencia; Jose Antonio Reyes played for Sevilla for 78 minutes before being substituted),

    Sevilla v Dnipro 3-2 (Dnipro took the lead before Sevilla turned it around with two quick goals, Dnipro equalized before the break; Sevilla got their winner in 73rd minute; Denis Suarez was unused substitute and Jose Antonio Reyes played for 58 minutes before being substituted),

    Sevilla v Liverpool 3-1 (Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool had been leading after first half thanks to Sturridge’s goal but Gameiro equalized immediately after the break and Coke’s brace turned the game around in the second half to hand Unai Emery a perfect hat-trick of Europa League victories; Kolo Toure played for Liverpool).

    So, what we can learn from these victories?

    1) if there are goals, Emery’s team concedes first goal of the game,

    2) Emery’s team doesn’t fall but turns the game around instead.

    Given the meaning of the game, it might turn out to be the most important game for Arsenal and Mr Emery in a way its outcome might determine how our finances and ambitions would be in the forthcoming years.

  2. All the best to Gunners. So excited, and cautiously optimistic.

  3. It’s unusual but I’m nervous as hell. I know as a team we are awesome, as a squad we have sufficient but there is a fear of the unknown lurking.

    I think we should win by at least 2 goals as we have a better all round team & a great strategist in our coach.


  4. Lineup

    Sokratis Koscielny Monreal
    Maitland-Niles Torreira Xhaka Kolasinac
    Lacazette Aubemeyang

    Beach: Leno, Iliev, Elneny, Lichtsteiner, Iwobi, Mustafi, Welbeck, Jenkinson, Guendouzi, Nketiah, Willock, Saka


  5. There was a dork pretending to be the Arsenal Reporter a couple of years ago, well he is the Chel$ea Reporter for the final. The Arsenal Reporter is new to me. Hopefully he isn’t as bad as some of these reporters are.

    I wonder how many empty seats there will be?


  6. Such a sad example of the beautiful game – an empty soulless stadium. I feel for all the fans who would have loved to be there but couldn’t because of the location.

    Please UEFA, FIFA, FA learn something about this soulless spectacle.

    COYG bring it back to North London.

  7. What use VAR 22mins when a clear shirt pull all the way into the penalty area is not called!!

    Absolute bollocks!!

  8. 3 penalty decisions that should have been made by VAR yet only one looked at!! What’s the use of a system that does less than the officials on the field? Auba’s cross from the right to Laca was never going to get a header. Laca was being held down by his shirt.

  9. I would give the benefit of the doubt on the Laca/Kepa penalty shout (although it probably was a penalty), but Azpilicueta getting away with TWO blatant (at least on replay) fist-full shirt grabbing on Lacazette despite VAR is beyond scandalous

  10. I’m glad at least one other saw what I did. We lost to a good team but we had to put up with an amazing bit of officiating.

    I still love my team & the club & the coach.

  11. I am deeply dissapointed that at the end of the match our players and staff didn’t pull on Mkhitaryan shirts with number 7 on for the handing out of the medals. I think we let Uefa get away with it too easily.
    We should have made a statement (win or lose we should have done it) that Uefa has taken away a final to a player.

  12. @walter, just out of curiosity, what statement would that be? And what does UEFA have to do with it?

  13. yes I thought it was a dive too
    had the impression maybe the Mhiki trouble did cast a shadow over the team. It is certanly a distraction a team can live without… The whole Baku thing was a sad disgrace.

  14. Only managed to watch the last few minutes . A bit disappointed for our team and the loyal supporters , but then again , we had a very good run to the finals .
    Hopefully we will give a right old good tilt at it next year. And with some fresh new ammo in our squad.

    Up the Gunners !

  15. Casmir, the statement would be that UEFA has taken a final away from a professional football player.

  16. @walter, I’m @a loss. How did UEFA manage to do that? As far as I’m aware, it was Arsenal and Mkhitaryan that made the decision to leave him out of the squad. And it is Armenia and Azerbaijan that decided to have political issues. I don’t know how UEFA can be blamed for any of those. Many countries have political issues, it has never stopped them hosting sporting events.

  17. VAR has proved beyond doubt to be as blind as the officials. The Red card offence by Emerson on Laca when he stamped and then kicked Laca was not picked up by VAR nor was a lot of comment from the media. Laca had to go through a lot of fouling, knees to his thighs, elbows and none of it resulted in cards nor was it highlighted or picked up by VAR.

    Selective blindness is a paid for commodity and last night makes one wonder.

    The referee let Guendouzi off a card late in the match ‘as an equaliser’. The number of Chelsea cardable fouls was telling, including Girouds dive for a penalty.

  18. Casmir/Walter before the match, there were reports of security checking shirts to ensure Mkhi was not going to be celebrated. That in itself was not the issue. The fact that little or no consideration by UEFA was given to the political fallout is what Walter would like to have seen highlighted.

  19. At 3 : 0 I knew the match was over for us. Unai has got to build some ‘steel’ into our team. Soon after the Giroud goal went past Cech I perceived a deflation in our approach and in the players. The team needs rebuilding, How? Let Unai figure it out; and congratulations to the team for making it to the finals at least. We are looking to improve on that come next season.

  20. Just as I thought, we were cheated. Of course we were. It couldn’t have been anything else could it?

  21. Well you may think that if you wish Masterstroke, but I don’t know how many would agree with you. Some evidence to back up your claim would help.

  22. @Menace, as far back as a week ago UEFA had warned that any attempt by arsenal fans to make political statements in Baku would attract sanctions.
    However my point remains, many countries have political differences, that has never stopped them being allowed to host sporting events. As long as the sporting authorities believe the safety of the sportsmen isn’t at risk or the values they believe in are not at risk, I see no reason to expect them to ostracize such states. Otherwise, Indian sportsmen would never compete in Pakistan and vice versa. Many countries sportsmen would not be allowed to compete in several countries. Nigeria as defending champions refused to go to South Africa in 1996 to defend their African nations cup due to political issues, they got banned by CAF. UEFA and Azerbaijan gave the requisite assurances of Miki’s safety, if Miki and arsenal weren’t convinced, I don’t think UEFA could have done anything about that.
    There have been situations where I would berate UEFA for not having been considerate enough for example when Dortmund still had to play a CL match after a bomb attack on it’s bus, when Barca still had to play inter Milan after a long road trip due to volcanic ash issues in Europe, or when Man city still had to play Liverpool despite attack on its team bus. But in the case of Baku, I’m with UEFA.

  23. @Tony, I believe masterstroke was sarcastically replying the likes of menace, who always say its d ref’s fault…

  24. @Casmir – your prerogative as to who you are with. Pakistan do not play sport in Pakistan! The cricketers play home games in Dubai.

    As for my pointing to officials, it is not blame for the result. It is for them being not fit for sport. If VAR is available, why did Emerson get away with a blatant Red card foul? Why was Laca pulled down by his shirt when trying to rise for a header? The officials did not see the incident but it is clearly visible to the sighted and to the VAR officials.

    There are far too many incidents in the match that show a lack of sporting quality of the officials in my opinion.

  25. @Menace, you’re right the Pakistani cricket team does not play international matches in Pakistan, but that was due to the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2007, and this boycott of Pakistan is a blanket boycott involving all nations and sanctioned by the ICC, as such one which is clearly a security issue. In the case of Baku, only Miki and maybe arsenal were the involves parties who considered it a security risk &they certainly didn’t have the support of the sporting governing body, UEFA. So I wonder what the statement would have been.

  26. @ Masterstroke – Please quote one single person on here that has laid the entire blame of this defeat at the ends of the referee.

  27. Casmir, who gave the match to Baku? It wasn’t Arsenal or Chelsea or Mkhitaryan. Uefa shouldn’t give a final to a country that is in war with another country. Doesn’t matter who is right or wrong or what the reason is. If ISIS would have paid enough money I bet Uefa would have tried to play a final in Mosul….

  28. Casmir, just the fact that they had to give reassurance shows that it was wrong to host it there. There should have been no reassurence needed. And looking back at how the police reacted to Arsenal supporters who had Mkhitaryan his name on their shirts shows how hostile the environment was against an Armenian name, let alone against an Armenian himself…

  29. And what about the UEFA report before they had to make a choice that showed that Baku was infact not really fitted to organise such a match. We all know why they got it, just as Qatar got the WC. Money going in to the right bank accounts. It is not because the right pockets were filled that the joice is justified.

  30. @Walter, I’m not aware Azerbaijan is currently fighting a war with anybody, just as India is not at war with Pakistan or the US is not at war with Iran or North Korea or China. There are so many countries of the world who have diplomatic issues with other countries, I don’t see how that is enough reason not to have sporting events in those countries/cities, Baku is no different, they have as much rights to enjoy a European final as London or Paris or Madrid, so yes UEFA should considere them when giving hosting Rights. You are right when you say no assurances were needed, it was probably due to the unnecessary politicizing of a football match by some people that meant the authorities had to go out of their way to give those specific assurances. Otherwise the blanket security arrangements for the teams and the fans should have sufficed

  31. Hadn’t been here in months, and just made a post regarding how VAR “failed” last night, and possible explanation as to why.. It was shocking. The treading on Laca’s ankle was a straight red, but was ignored. Then the shirt pull, and the pen shout, and Giroud (I like the guy, btw) going down like a sack of potatoes as soon as he felt Maitland-Niles’ breath on his back… it was like there was no VAR at all!

    Could any other team have suffered the same fate? Highly doubt it.

  32. well, i saw what i saw…a great display by arsenal in the 1st half, whereas a poor one from chelsea with loads of poor passes and panic clearing on a regular basis. We should have scored a couple of times and put the game to bed. I saw the reverse in the 2nd half…and we were punished !
    C’est la vie

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