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Europa League Final preview: There’s little to choose between Chelsea and Arsenal

Chelsea and Arsenal go head-to-head in Azerbaijan, on Wednesday, May 29, aiming to finish off the season by claiming the Europa League trophy.

The game has added significance for both sides, with neither having secured any other silverware during the current campaign.

Chelsea are slight favourites with NetBet to beat Arsenal, although there is little to choose between the two sides in the betting.

Blues’ boss Maurizio Sarri has been handed a massive injury blow ahead of the game after Ruben Loftus-Cheek limped off during a 3-0 friendly win against New England Revolution last week.

Callum Hudson-Odoi and Antonio Rudiger have definitely been ruled out of the final, but N’Golo Kante is expected to recover from an injury in time to take his place in the matchday squad.

Juventus-bound Aaron Ramsey will not have the chance to sign-off his Arsenal career in style, with the midfielder on the sidelines with a thigh injury. Danny Welbeck, Denis Suarez, Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding are also out.

Chelsea previously reached the final of the Europa League back in 2013, recording a 2-1 victory over Benfica.

They breezed through the opening stage of the competition this time around, playing some impressive football to claim top spot in their group.

Sarri’s side swept aside Malmo and Dynamo Kiev in the first two knockout rounds, but were pushed much harder by Slavia Prague before claiming victory in their quarter-final tie.

Chelsea needed penalties to see off Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-final, with Eden Hazard’s spot-kick proving the difference between the two sides.

The Gunners last progressed to a major European final back in 2006, but Barcelona dashed their hopes of winning the Champions League courtesy of a 2-1 win.

They were untroubled during the group stage in this season’s Europa League, dropping just two points to qualify ahead of Sporting Lisbon.

They were beaten away from home against BATE Borisov and Rennes in the knockout stage, but recovered on each occasion at the Emirates Stadium to progress to the last eight.

Unai Emery’s side have easily seen off Napoli and Valencia in the next two rounds to book their place in Baku.

The two sides last met in Europe in the quarter-finals of the 2003/04 Champions League, with Chelsea securing a 3-2 aggregate victory.

The Blues have lost just four of their 17 meetings with English opposition in UEFA competitions, while Arsenal have failed to pick up a win in six matches against teams from England.

However, the Gunners have lost just one of their last eight meetings with Chelsea in all competitions – a 3-2 league defeat back in August 2018.

Just two points separated the two sides in the 2018/19 Premier League standings and it would be no surprise to see the final decided by a single-goal margin.

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