The expectation last night was that Arsenal would push the pace against Chelsea and really assert their authority on the game early on. All things considered, that doesn’t seem like all too much to ask for, but in the end, it quite clearly was. Chelsea defeated Arsenal 4-1 in Baku, condemning Unai Emery’s men to yet another season of Europa League football in the process. No, we aren’t joking.
Europa League (cont.)
The knockout stages wound up being much more difficult than anyone could’ve anticipated, and when we say difficult, we mean BATE Borisov and Rennes just wouldn’t lie down. They did it a really great job of holding firm and pushing Arsenal all the way, and they deserve to be applauded for that. Then, in the big games against Napoli and Valencia, the Gunners proved once again that they can mix it up with the best of them when called upon. Now, one final showdown with Chelsea awaits – and there’s no reason to believe they can’t get the job done.
We’re of the belief that Arsenal have had an interesting season, and in truth, interesting is one of the best neutral words we can think to use. We’ve said it time and time again since the Premier League campaign came to an end, but here it is again: some things were good, and some were bad. It’s not like we get off on sitting on the fence or anything, either, because in many ways we actually aren’t sitting on the fence. Quite the opposite, in fact.
We’re not all too far away from Arsenal’s Europa League final, as the club go in search of a European trophy for the first time in a long time. The Gunners have certainly been able to earn their place in Baku throughout the course of the competition, to the point where a lot of neutrals believe they are the favourites to lift the trophy. Whether that’s true or not, it doesn’t really matter – because what does matter is that the club gets the job done regardless of the expectations.
Arsenal will take on Chelsea in the UEFA Europa League Final in Baku, in a game that many fans had seen coming ever since the semi final draw was made. These two London rivals are going to be going toe to toe for the right to lift one of the most beautiful trophies in football, but of course, the game means more to Arsenal as their Champions League hopes rest on the outcome of this game.
Arsenal have one foot in the UEFA Europa League final, which in itself, is a pretty exciting prospect. Arsenal fans haven’t been able to get excited about a European final since they lost to Barcelona in the Champions League final back in 2006, which we can imagine is still a sore spot for a lot of supporters. Still, we’re here to talk about the future as opposed to the past, and the future is certainly bright after the Gunners were able to beat Valencia 3-1 in the first leg of their Europa League semi final tie last night.
- The Gunners knocked out CSKA Moscow at this stage of the Europa League last season (6-3 on aggregate) before falling to Atletico Madrid in the semi finals.
- The stage doesn’t matter because, to us, this is the same as the Atletico game – just at a different stage. Their games in this competition won’t get much harder than this one on paper, and they need to remain focused.
- Arsenal have been beaten just once in their last 17 home games in the UEFA Cup/Europa League (W12 D4) – losing 1-2 to Ostersunds FK in the last 32 in 2017-18.
It’s game day folks, as Arsenal gear up to take on a Napoli side that are going to pose them more issues than most teams have throughout the course of the season so far. The Gunners are in a prime position to make a solid run all the way through to the Europa League final, but of course, the Italian side shouldn’t be taken lightly by any stretch of the imagination. It’s going to be a pretty back and forth affair based on the last few encounters these two teams have shared with one another, and generally, it’s pretty easy to predict that given how both teams play.
Arsenal’s season has been a long and complicated one, and that’s putting it lightly. The Gunners have enjoyed the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and it feels like there are plenty more of both to come in the last few weeks. The club are still competing on two different fronts in both the Europa League and the Premier League, and let’s face it, the one and only end goal is going to be Champions League qualification.
Arsenal have arrived to France where they are set to face Rennes in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16. The players who made the trip are: Petr Cech, Bernd Leno; Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolašinac, Ainsley Maitland-Niles; Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi, Aaron Ramsey, Denis Suarez, Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan; Alex Iwobi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Eddie Nketiah.
Joined by midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, manager Unai Emery spoke to the press, giving his thoughts ahead of the clash.
On Lacazette ban