The Europa League final is done and dusted, with Chelsea brushing past a hapless Arsenal 4-1. This meant that Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has finally won the first trophy of his career in his very first season at Chelsea. Although it was a European final, the match felt more like a friendly at times, especially in the first half. The atmosphere was also one that resembled the lower leagues and not the elite competitive matches we are so used to.
Arsenal will surely be disappointed in themselves, considering that by now, they should have already secured Champions League football for next season, if not for their end of the season Premier League turmoil which made them finish 5th. Although a lot can be taken from this night of joys and sorrows, here are 3 talking points from the Europa League final:
1. No Hazard, big problem
Hazard has been Chelsea's most consistent performer for the past few seasons. He has also been instrumental for the Blues this season, guiding them to a 3rd place finish which guaranteed that they will be playing in the Champions League even before the Europa League final took place.
The Belgian was once again key for Chelsea today, scoring 2 goals. He also created many chances for his teammates while carving Arsenal's defence like a piece of chocolate cake. Hazard has also been responsible for almost 50% of Chelsea's goals this summer.
Hazard has already revealed that he will be leaving Chelsea in a post-match interview after the final. He has been linked with a move away all season and it looks like his dream of playing for Real Madrid might finally be coming true.
Chelsea, on the other hand, has been hit with a 2 transfer window ban, which comes into effect this summer. This means that they will not be able to sign a Hazard replacement. Although Christian Pulisic has arrived from Dortmund, the 20-year-old cannot fill in Hazard's boots straight away. How Chelsea will cope without their star man is yet to be seen.
2. Arsenal failed to deliver when it mattered most
Whether it may be the last month of the Premier League or the Europa League final, Arsenal fans will surely be whacking their heads on how they managed to miss out on Champions League football. After being in prime position to get in the Champions League places in the Premier League, they went on a horrible run of form because of which they finished 5th.
It looks like they have carried the same pattern for the Europa League final as well. They were the dominant team in the first half and would consider themselves unlucky that they didn't lead heading into the break. But in the second half, they were outplayed in almost every single position, as wave after wave of Chelsea attacks continuously broke through the Arsenal defence.
Although Unai Emery has done a commendable job in his first season at Arsenal, the Gunners will once again have to settle for the Europa League next season.
3. UEFA is the real bottlejob
Was that even a final to begin with! The idea of hosting the final in Baku, Azerbaijan was itself a very wrong decision by UEFA. With the match being held almost 2000 miles away from London, most of the travelling fans must have gone through hell trying to reach Baku.
There was barely any atmosphere, to begin with before the match. The sight of hundreds of empty seats for a European final is a mockery to the competition. Arsenal player Henrikh Mkhitaryan refused to take part in the final due to the ongoing political tensions between his country Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Would Mkhitaryan have started the game if it had been held anywhere else? Would he have been able to influence the tide of the game? Alas, we will never know the answer to those questions.
Will UEFA learn from their mistakes and make the correct decisions for next season's European competitons? Let me know in the comments below.