Who will win the Europa League final, Arsenal or Chelsea? It is a case of two curiously and evenly matched rivals who have been pitted against one another all season long.
All season long, I kept thinking with my heart that there was no logical way that Chelsea would finish ahead of Arsenal.
Even after the defeat to Chelsea in the second game of the season, which I still can’t believe the Gunners lost — How did Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang miss that golden boot opportunity from 10 yards out? That one chance taken and he would have been the winner outright and his team would have finished above Chelsea. But I digress.
Of course, I never thought that Arsenal would lose to Southampton or BATE Borisov. Or that Chelsea would get walked all over by Bournemouth. But I was thinking with my heart. Before the Europa League final between these two very evenly matched teams, it is time, then, to give my head a shake.
Both really deserve to be duking it out in the poor man’s Champions League this season. The consistency just hasn’t been there for either team. But that could all change after May 29th. The purse strings may yet open for the Gunners with a Champions League spot secured.
Chelsea find themselves in the enviable position of already qualifying for the big show by way of securing third in the Premier League. Owner Roman Abramovich may also now spend freely to close the gap on the top two.
Consequently, Chelsea are playing with no pressure and a glorious chance to end their season with a grand trophy to put in their already crowded European trophy case. Arsenal, meanwhile, have some serious pressure on their heavily-laden shoulders. And we all know how they handle pressure!
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They haven’t qualified for Champions League in what is becoming a very long time now. And without a win on May 29th, there will be no trophies this year, not even an FA Cup. You could usually count on Arsene Wenger to squeeze that one in.
Unai Emery’s team has more scoring punch up front with their dynamic duo of Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang, but Chelsea have a better defensive record, and a more reliable defense period. Gonzalo Higuaín is looking more comfortable in the Chelsea line-up and, of course, they also have a stronger bench with the Europa League’s top scorer, Olivier Giroud, anxious to be involved.
So, who should I be betting on? Eden Hazard or Mesut Ozil? Granit Xhaka or Jorginho? N’Golo Kanté or Lucas Torreira? It is a case of two curiously matched, rather even and yet unbalanced teams, and it is all rather important for many seasons to come.