For the first time since Tottenham faced off against Wolves in 1971-72, two English teams will contest the final of UEFA’s second-tier competition on Wednesday evening, when Chelsea take on Arsenal in the Europa League Final.
Although much furore has surrounded the venue and travel arrangements, a strong collection of Chelsea and Arsenal fans are expected to make the journey to Baku. Here are some of the best bets ahead of the season-ending clash.
Chelsea are unbeaten in 17 matches in the competition, a run stretching back to their 2013 campaign, which culminated in victory over Benfica in the final. They’ve had a reasonably stress-free route to the final and are the top-scorers in the competition. Olivier Giroud to add to his ten goals in the competition at any time is 2/1 at grosvenorsport.com.
Arsenal on the other hand had to overcome tricky ties against Valencia and Napoli in the knockout stages. Manager Unai Emery is 15/8 to set the record for most Europa League titles after three consecutive wins as Sevilla boss, winning his first in in 2014.
Arsenal’s European Struggles
Emery’s side have hardly had it all their own way in European finals, having lost their last three, including the 2006 Champions League Final against Barcelona. Their record against English sides in Europe does not look much better. The Gooners are yet to beat an English side in a UEFA competition.
Although one of them may start on the bench, Arsenal have been reliant on their strike force of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in the knockout phase. The duo have scored all of Arsenal’s last eight goals in the competition. Aubameyang is 9/2 to score the first goal at grosvenorsport.com, with Lacazette 2/1 to score anytime.
This year’s competition has produced 560 goals so far, at an average of 2.75 goals per game, and there could be value in over 3.5 goals at a price of 9/4.
Success for Sarri?
Despite criticism throughout the season, a third-place finish and a Europa League victory would undoubtedly constitute a successful debut season for Maurizio Sarri. Chelsea have won four of their last five European Finals and could equal Manchester United’s five European trophies with a win in Baku.
Their European record against English sides appears much stronger, having lost just four of their 17 meetings in UEFA competitions. The last time these two sides faced off in Europe, it was Chelsea that prevailed from the Champions League quarter-final tie. Sarri’s side are 8/11 to lift the trophy.
More goals have been scored in the last 15 minutes than any other period during Europa League matches this season, making more than 2.5 goals to be scored in the second half good value at 7/2.
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