In the end, Arsenal recorded a comfortable 7-3 aggregate victory over Valencia in the semi-final of the Europa League. It was very un-Arsenal like to make it so easy. Their away form prior to the 4-2 victory at the Mestalla on Thursday night made the win all the more satisfying.
The Gunners will now face London rivals Chelsea in the final in Azerbaijan. In truth, Arsenal will now fancy their chances of winning the trophy on May 29th.
Two incentives to win the Europa League
There are two major incentives for the Gunners to beat Chelsea in the final. The first is that they will win a trophy, which are hard to come by Manchester City seemingly wanting a monopoly on trophies these days.
It is not just a trophy; it is a European trophy. The Gunners have only ever won one European trophy in the history of the club, which came back in 1994 when the team from north London lifted the European Cup Winners Cup. For a club the size of Arsenal that is a poor record.
The second big incentive is obviously that winning the Europa League brings with a place in the Champions League for next season. The Gunners are not going to get into Europe’s elite competition via the league, barring an incredible turnaround in goal difference of course. Arsenal needs Champions League football to move forward.
A trophy would prove Emery has been a success
It is hard to judge whether Arsenal have enjoyed a successful season in Unai Emery’s debut campaign in north London. The consensus seems to be that the Gunners are moving in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work for the Spaniard to do to be a success at the club.
Arsenal are currently odds of 21/10 to win the Europa League, with Chelsea slight favourites to lift the trophy. However, if Emery won the Europa League in his first campaign with the Gunners it will have been a successful season.
Winning the Europa League will mean that the Spaniard has achieved his primary objective of qualifying for the Champions League, even if it is not via their position in the Premier League table.
It seems now that so much rides on that final. Arsenal need Champions League football for the revenue and also the fact it attracts players to the club. Chelsea are not unbeatable and the Gunners now have a golden opportunity to lift a European trophy.
Can Arsenal get the better of Chelsea in the Europa League final?