Europa League Final: 3 things we learnt as Chelsea steamroll Arsenal to lift the title
Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea romped to a 4-1 victory over fellow Premier League team Arsenal in the UEFA Europa League final last night, held in Baku, Azerbaijan. Goals from Olivier Giroud and Pedro Rodriguez and a brace from Eden Hazard saw manager Sarri lift his first major trophy after over two decades in management. N'Golo Kante was risked in midfield by Sarri, despite the Frenchman having a knee problem, as the Blues started with a 4-3-3 system with Pedro preferred to Willian in the right wing and Mateo Kovacic starting ahead of Ross Barkley in midfield.
Arsenal went with a 3-5-2 system, retaining the same side which decimated Valencia 4-2 in the semi-final second leg, with Mesut Ozil starting at the heart of midfield ahead of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who was ruled out due to political tension between his native Armenia and the host country Azerbaijan. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sead Kolasinac occupied the wing-back positions, while Petr Cech started in goal ahead of Bernd Leno in his last outing.
A cagey first half saw few clear cut chances for each side as both teams battled for midfield dominance. The much needed first goal came in the 49th minute, with former Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud expertly placing a header past Cech after latching onto a superb cross from Emerson Palmieri. A neat interplay between Kovacic and Hazard released the Belgian down the left flank in the 59th minute; Hazard experty cut the ball back into the path of an onrushing Pedro, who made no mistake with a low finish past Cech to double Chelsea's lead.
Maitland-Niles showed his inexperience in the 65th minute as he clumsily bundled over Giroud to concede a penalty, which was expertly dispatched by Eden Hazard. Alex Iwobi came off the bench to offer some hope for the Gunners by scoring a screamer in the 69th minute. But Chelsea were not to be denied and the Blues put the game to bed in the 72nd minute, with star man Hazard finishing off a neat one-two with Giroud. Chelsea won the game 4-1 and in this article, we look at three learnings we learnt from the Europa League final.