The Europa League season comes to a close with a London derby to conclude the proceedings. For the Gunners to play in the Champions League next term, they should win the Europa League final against fellow Londoners Chelsea at the Olympic Stadium in Baku. The Blues have always been tricky opponents for the Gunners and the final will be no different.
Maurizio Sarri’s men have qualified for the next year’s Champions League and winning the Europa League will see Sarri win some silverware after a rollercoaster season.
With several subplots making this a mouthwatering fixture, here is how I expect the Gunners to start in the final:
The retiring Petr Cech is the designated cup keeper while Bernd Leno is the first choice goalie for the Gunners. Plenty of Arsenal fans are keen to see Leno in the starting XI while I expect Unai Emery to stick with Cech, who will look to end his illustrious career with a trophy against his former team.
Emery is likely to start the trio of Sokratis, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal at the heart of the defence. The experienced defenders must be at the top of their game to nullify the threat of Giroud, Pedro and Hazard.
Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira were instrumental in the Gunners’ 2-0 win over Chelsea in the Premier League, and I expect them to start in this pivotal fixture.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles has deputized for the injured Hector Bellerin as a reliable right wingback and the young Englishman will have to neutralize the threat of Eden Hazard. Sead Kolasinac will join him on the opposite wing as the left wingback.
Aaron Ramsey was the most influential midfielder when the Gunners hosted the Blues in January. Ramsey took Jorginho out of the game with relentless pressing. With the Welshman out of the game with an injury, the onus is on Mesut Ozil to create chances for his teammates.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette’s goal-scoring feats have bailed out Gunners throughout the campaign and a lot depends on how the duo fares in the most important fixture of the season for the Gunners.