PMB: Europa League final - matchday

The final part of the Pre-Match Briefing gets you ready for today's big game...

• Arsenal know all about their former striker Olivier Giroud, who is the Europa League’s joint-leading scorer this season with 10, and needs three to beat Lionel Messi as the top marksman in UEFA competitions this season. Willian has set-up seven goals for team-mates, the most in the competition, but Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, responsible for eight goals in this competition, are both ruled out. Their fluid switching of defence into attack will be missed if the game is as open on either flank as our recent league encounters.

Eden Hazard, who missed the 2013 victory in Amsterdam over Benfica through injury, may feel this is his night to shine in a European final. Chelsea used the Belgian as a centre-forward for 70 minutes of the Emirates defeat in January, but he was unable to add to his tally of five goals in 18 games against the Gunners – several of them absolute classics.


• David Luiz, who was coached briefly at Paris Saint-Germain by Unai Emery, is set to be partnered by Andreas Christensen who has contributed to eight clean sheets so far, the most of any centre-back involved in this competition. The Blues are without injured Toni Rudiger but Ethan Ampadu returned to training last week, as did immensely influential midfielder N’Golo Kante who has since suffered a knee problem which makes him a doubt tonight. Each team is allowed three substitutes (four if extra-time happens) from the 12 allowed on the bench this evening.

Three And In Quiz

• Emery likes to tweak systems. Against the Blues he has played his three most physical midfielders, but in the five Europa League outings since a 3-1 loss at Rennes he has used a 3-4-1-2. In that system Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sead Kolasinac are his attacking wing-backs and Mesut Ozil plays as a no.10. Behind them Chelsea’s midfield battle is likely to be against Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira. Maurizio Sarri understandably singled out the threat posed by strike pairing Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who, with four apiece, have accounted for the last eight of their team’s goals in this competition.

• Like Chelsea, the Gunners have a host of absences through injury, including Aaron Ramsey and Hector Bellerin. More controversially, Unai Emery will be without Henrikh Mkhitaryan as a result of security concerns arising from political tension between host country Azerbaijan and Armenia, where he was born. No Arsenal team-mate has registered more assists in this competition than the attacking midfielder with three, although he started their past five games on the bench.

• Emery also has to decide whether to play Bernd Leno in goal or the man he deposed, Petr Cech. The Czech could play the last game of his career against his former club. Whoever plays in goal for the Gunners will be aware Chelsea have attempted the most direct free-kicks in the Europa League this season: 15.

Maurizio Sarri pre-match quotes

‘The beginning of the season was really very difficult for me to understand my players, the mentality.

‘But after a very difficult month in January, in February they started to change. I think, probably I changed, I don't know. In this moment I love them, because I have 20, 22 wonderful men and wonderful players. So now I am really very happy with them.’

Unai Emery pre-match quotes

‘The first XI for the game I want to say to the players first. I can't speak about Petr Cech a lot, but above all, he's a great man, a great professional.

‘He is amazing, his behaviour and his year here with us. It is going to be the last match tomorrow because he decided to finish his career and I want to do something important with him. This is my conversation with him. I want to do something important with him in the last moment of his career, playing or not playing.’

Squad news

Callum Hudson-Odoi
Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Toni Rudiger

Ethan Ampadu
N’Golo Kante


Hector Bellerin
Rob Holding
Konstantinos Mavropanos
Aaron Ramsey
Denis Suarez

Danny Welbeck


Matchday weather outlook

Sunny, breezy and humid on the banks of the Caspian Sea today.

- Follow the game in our Match Centre

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