The final week of the season across the top European leagues means just one thing, after all the domestic issues were sorted last weekend, it is the week for finals and there are no bigger than the two European finals scheduled to take place this week.
First up in Baku, Azerbaijan, Arsenal face Chelsea in the Europa League final in what should be an exciting all-English clash and then this is followed on Saturday by the biggest game of them all as Liverpool and Tottenham meet face to face at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid, home of Atletico, in the final of what has been an extraordinary Champions League competition this season.
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Lets begin our preview of both big matches this week by taking a look ahead to Wednesday night’s game in Baku.
Europe League Final Preview
Arsenal v Chelsea
- Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan (Wed 29th May – 8pm Kick Off)
A London derby, between teams based less than ten miles apart, will be played in a city 2,500 miles away, with incredibly difficult transport links and who are in a political situation with another neighbouring country which means that one of the teams key players cannot play in the match. Only UEFA could have agreed to play the final in Baku without ever realising what the prospect of that could be.
The fact that Arsenal have had to leave Armenian midfielder Henrik Mkhitartyan at home due to the political situation between his country and Azerbaijan makes a mockery of the decision to play the game in Baku, even without knowing the two finalists would be from the same country.
Still, it is what it is, and I am sure the thousands of fans who do make the journey will still want their team to enjoy the thrill of victory in a major European final to enjoy.
Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-2 in the Premier League back in August but in January Arsenal returned the favour with a 2-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium. This tends to suggest that the match tonight being played at a neutral venue, should be a very close encounter indeed.
The big injury news seems to be coming from Chelsea where N’Golo Kante could miss out through injury and his energy in midfield will be a huge loss to Chelsea. Arsenal will be without several players, most notably Aaron Ramsey, through injury, while Chelsea’s English duo Callum Hudson Odoi and Ruben Loftus Cheek, both who have played an extensive part in the Europa League this season, also miss out through injury.
Arsenal (5-3-2) – Leno, Maitland Niles, Kolasinac, Koscielny, Papasthatopoulos, Mustafi, Guendouzi, Torreira, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Chelsea (4-3-3) – Kepa, Azpilicueta, Alonso, Luiz, Rudiger, Jorginho, Kovacic, Barkley, Hazard, Willian, Higuain
- Full Time Result – Chelsea to win – 6/5
- Correct Score – Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal – 8/1
- Anytime Goalscorer – Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – 13/8
All odds shown are correct with bet365 Sport and are correct at the time of publication of the article.
Champions League Final Preview
Tottenham v Liverpool
- Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain (Sat 1st June – 8pm Kick Off)
Both of these teams will be hoping for victory on Saturday for similar reasons. Both want to land their first trophy under their exciting manager, both will want to lift the biggest trophy in club football and the riches that come along with it and both will be hoping to give their fans something to cheer after a number of near misses in recent seasons.
In terms of form, there’s no doubt that Liverpool come into this game in far better shape. The Reds only recent loss was that 3-0 reverse at Barcelona, a scoreline which flattered the home side and we all know what happened in the second leg at Anfield that made that defeat somewhat forgettable.
In contrast Spurs have had some really indifferent form coming into this game and although they have had a three-week break to try and sort things out, and get Harry Kane back to fitness, there’s no doubt that the confidence and swagger that they had when challenging City and Liverpool much more closely in the Premier League, has disappeared somewhat.
Both sides have had some good fortune in this tournament this season. Both barely scraped it through the group stages, clinching qualification for the knockout phase with their last game in the group. After beating Dortmund with ease, Spurs then had to rely on away goals and late drama against both Manchester City and Ajax in the quarter and semifinals in order to progress and in both those games, it has to be said, Spurs were somewhat fortunate.
Liverpool’s away form in the Group Stage was awful, losing all three, but they won all three at home, however after being held at Anfield by Bayern Munich, the Reds were favourites to go out in Germany, but produced a superb 3-1 win to progress. Porto were swept aside in the quarters and in the semi, that 4-0 comeback at Anfield to eliminate Barcelona, Messi, Suarez and Coutinho all in the team, must rank as one of the all-time great Champions League performances, especially considering Liverpool were without Salah and Firmino for that game.
So both sides have had their fair share of luck and inspiration so far and that bodes well for a rare final between two English teams, the last being Chelsea and Manchester United’s clash in 2008.
Liverpool will be without Naby Keita for this game as the Guinean ace has a knee injury but Roberto Firmino is fit again after recovering from injury. Spurs have Harry Kane back and a number of other players should also return giving both managers almost full squads to pick from.
Tottenham – (4-1-3-2) – Lloris, Trippier, Rose, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Sissoko, Alli, Eriksen, Son, Moura, Kane
Liverpool (4-3-3) – Alisson, Alexander Arnold, Robertson, Van Dijk, Matip, Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Salah, Mane, Firmino
- Full Time Result – Liverpool to win – 19/20
- Correct Score – Liverpool 3-1 Tottenham – 14/1
- Anytime Goalscorer – Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – 6/4