Unai Emery was left to rue his tactical plan, as his side was easily defeated by their opponents.
Chelsea humiliated Arsenal in the UEFA Europa League final, in Baku. The Blues defeated The Gunners, 4-1, thanks to a heroic display from Eden Hazard. Olivier Giroud opened the scoring for Chelsea against his former team before the Real Madrid-bound winger scored twice, once through open play and the other through a penalty. He also set up Pedro Rodriguez for Chelsea’s second goal of the night.
Alex Iwobi scored the only goal for Unai Emery’s side, for whom their star attacking duo of Alexander Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, failed to find their foothold throughout the game.
Watch: Chelsea 4-1 Arsenal, Goals and Highlights
We at Khel Now take a look at five such talking points from the game:
5. Did Unai Emery make the right call by starting with Petr Cech?
The lead-up to the final of the Europa League had many discussions and suggestions, popping up from fans and pundits for both the coaches. One of which was loud and clear was of David Seamen, asking Unai Emery to start Bernd Leno over Petr Cech.
Arsenal needed the win more than Chelsea as Chelsea already had Champions League football next season. So Arsenal should have started their first-choice custodian, instead of giving Cech a farewell match. Cech conceded four goals, at least two of which could have easily parried away by a goalkeeper with faster reflexes.
Clearly, the decision looks to have backfired for The Gunners, who chose to stick with Petr Cech as they did throughout this season in Europa League.
4. Did Arsenal open up the game too early after conceding first?
The game started with the teams battling it out in the midfield, playing high defensive lines that were too compact for any penetration. The midfield of both the teams couldn’t make three consecutive passes vertically, and that gave the impression of it turning out to be a cagey toe-to-toe final, in Baku.
But as soon as Chelsea found a way out, of that compact defence once, and scored, Arsenal looked to lose all the calmness they displayed initially. The team started getting desperate for a way back into the game through a goal and consequently opened up, in the midst of the first half itself.
What followed was another goal for the Blues and a lead that turned out to be an insurmountable one for Arsenal in the second half. Chelsea ran riot in the second half, and Arsenal could never find their calmness back on the ball.
3. Did Arsenal miss Aaron Ramsey?
The Welshman was sorely missed by Unai Emery
The game had the grain of being a battle of midfield. The thought of watching the likes of Torreira, Xhaka, and Ozil against Kante, Kovacic and Jorginho had the fans on their feet. The game although turned out to be one-way traffic with Chelsea stamping their authority over the game.
While Xhaka looked near to his best, playing great through balls on the left, Mesut Ozil and Torreira had very little to no effect on the game. Also, the ask of Emery for the midfielders to close on the passing lines of the Chelsea midfielders failed as the ‘pivot-duo’ of Xhaka and Torreira failed to create any big impact defensively.
Matteo Guendozi too was wasteful for the Gunners, and the lack of creativity was clear and evident. A certain Ramsey with the ability to carry the ball forward rather than playing through balls and link the midfield with the attack well could have had helped much more for Emery’s side, maybe?
2. Is it Eden Hazard’s and Maurizio Sarri’s final game for Chelsea?
Eden Hazard probably played his last ever Chelsea game
Chelsea has received a transfer ban this summer, at least for the moment. They can’t buy players as they can’t register them. Meanwhile, Eden Hazard, the star of the game in Baku, has already said that it was perhaps a ‘good-bye’ after seven years of life at Stamford Bridge.
The Real Madrid-bound winger has been the undisputed best player for Chelsea for the past seven years and it looks like his time with the Blues is over. The Belgian international has made up his mind and is on the move.
Also, Maurizio Sarri has found it very difficult to motivate the set of players he has had to play. The not-so disciplined squad has the likes of David Luiz and Kepa Arrizabalaga, who have reportedly got on to the nerves of the Italian. And it has been football’s worst-kept secret. Juventus would welcome the Italian with both arms open.
For Chelsea, a club with high ambitions, the dramatic fall to the ashes (yes, fall even after winning the UEL and finishing third in Premier League) after the start that the team had this season that saw them look as good as Liverpool and Manchester City, it became pretty evident that Sarri-ball is not for Premier League and Chelsea. And the club could well be okay to say goodbye to the manager.
1. How will the failure to qualify for UCL impact Arsenal’s summer re-building plans?
Arsenal has a very small budget. Not more than 40 million pounds, if the reports are to be believed. And the club has already identified the players that they would look to get their hands on in this transfer window. But a budget so low in a market so inflated nowadays would hardly get the Gunners the players they wish to get.
The likes of Joan Jordon, Ryan Fraser, and Samuel Umtiti have been linked with the London club. And the club banked on the UCL qualification either through UEL or through Premier League to help them increase their budget. But now that it’s not happening, it would be very difficult for Unai Emery to re-build the team by buying the players he wishes to buy.
The net-budget of £40m is very small, when the likes of Wolverhampton Wolves and even the relegated Fulham spend so much in the recent transfer windows.