Chelsea and Arsenal clashed in the finals of the Europa League at Baku Olympic Stadium in what promised to be an exciting match, which managed to live up to its expectations. The show ended with the 2nd Europa League title for Chelsea and 2nd runners-up spot for the Gunners, who left the stadium with disappointed faces.
Only Chelsea can have a season that goes from one extreme to another. Disappointing results in the Premier League, internal struggles within the team, and fans’ dissatisfaction with Sarri as a coach turned into a 3rd place finish in the EPL and a Europa League title for Chelsea, whose future does not look as dark as it did weeks ago. Looking at their season, we can say it was a true embodiment of Chelsea, who are known to go from enthusiasm to sadness and back to happiness, at least that’s the case in recent years. While there is a lot to be said about Chelsea in the recent years, there is, even more, to be said about the finals of Europa League which took place on May 29th between Chelsea and Arsenal, two teams who know each other all too well.
The match truly was a spectacular one, worthy of being played in the finals. Both teams performed well, however, there was arguably a clear difference in quality, which can be seen in the final result. Whichever way we look at it, Chelsea did end up winning by a 3-goal margin thanks to their star player Eden Hazard who played his last match for Chelsea. The finals did not offer much in the 1st half in term of goals, which is why the teams compensated with an exciting 2nd half, where we saw a total of 5 goals scored. It took Chelsea only 4 minutes into the 2nd half to score a goal, to which they added two more in 60th and 65th when Hazard scored a penalty. Arsenal responded with a goal of their own in 69th minute, but failed to capitalize on the momentum and instead of scoring two more goals, conceded for the 4th time in the 72nd minute, once again thanks to Eden Hazard, who with 2 goals and an assist ensured the finals will forever be known as his final appearance for Chelsea. A truly great way to say farewell to the team that was his home for 9 years.
Winning their 2nd Europa League with a 2-0 record in the finals of Europa League in addition to qualifying for Champions League next season with a 3rd place finish in the Premier League, Chelsea ended the season the best possible way and to be frank, much better than what was expected from them. This now leaves us with the question of what does the future hold for Sarri, who was under a lot of criticism throughout the season. With a Europa League cup in hands and 3rd place finish in EPL, I would not dare to say this season was anything less than successful for the Blues, which should result in Sarri gaining some more respect. Perhaps we will see Chelsea fans who turned against Sarri change their mind after the spectacular show on May 29th and start believing in the Italian coach, or maybe it still won’t be enough, which just might result in Sarri leaving the club.
On the other side of the pitch, Arsenal did not have a nearly as successful season. Losing their chance to qualify for the Champions League, the Gunners will have to be satisfied with yet another Europa League appearance next season. Finishing Premier league at 5th spot, Arsenal lost out on the top 4 finish by only 1 point, which only adds salt to the wound they suffered in a disappointing 4:1 defeat against Chelsea. Where will future bring Arsenal is something we can only speculate, however from what we have seen yesterday, there is a huge gap between Arsenal and Europe best teams, and the gap is seemingly only getting bigger and bigger.