Chelsea vs Arsenal: Charlie Nicholas' Europa League final prediction
Gunners looking to win to secure place in next season's Champions League, while Eden Hazard could be playing last match for Chelsea
Last Updated: 30/05/19 7:22am
Charlie Nicholas makes his prediction for the Europa League final between Chelsea and Arsenal, and highlights the key players.
The Gunners will be looking to secure a place in next season's Champions League with victory in Baku, while Chelsea could be bidding farewell to Eden Hazard after the game if he departs in the summer transfer window.
Where will the match be won and lost? What could it mean for both teams' summer plans? And will Mesut Ozil play a starring role? Charlie makes his prediction...
Injury concerns for Chelsea
"This game has got drama written all over it.
"Will Petr Cech play? He is taking a job at Chelsea after this. It may be Eden Hazard's last game, along with a couple of Arsenal players perhaps. It will probably be more so Hazard walking away with a hero-like status and this would magnify it if he could put on a performance here.
"The issues I have been looking at are the Chelsea injury worries. N'Golo Kante is under scrutiny as to whether he plays and Antonio Rudiger looks as though he is out. There is no Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The pace of Hudson-Odoi and the athleticism of Loftus-Cheek would worry Arsenal. Unai Emery won't change the formation of how he plays but it puts him at an advantage of who to pick and where.
Follow the Europa League final
You can follow all of the action of Chelsea vs Arsenal from Baku on the Sky Sports App and skysports.com with our dedicated Europa League final live blog, which will feature the best build-up, commentary and reaction.
The Europa League final will take place on Wednesday, May 29; Kick-off is at 8pm.
"If Hazard turns up I think Chelsea will win, but Arsenal have snuffed him out before and can put more than one man on him. Gonzalo Higuain is a threat but not with pace, which suits Arsenal. Olivier Giroud is a handful and could play against his former team.
Arsenal are the underdogs
"There are lots of permutations that I am looking at. Arsenal are currently the underdogs and I can understand that with Chelsea finishing in the Champions League places and Arsenal finishing fifth. Chelsea and Arsenal have exchanged wins, but Arsenal lost through defensive mistakes.
"The reality still is that Emery will play an insecure back three or back five. Ainsley Maitland-Niles can work forward and back and will have enough cover inside. Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Laurent Koscielny - another playing a possible farewell game - will probably play alongside Nacho Monreal, then Sead Kolasinac and Maitland-Niles will probably line up as the wing-backs. That is where they will stop Hazard and the feed to the frontman.
"Granit Xhaka is hit-and-miss and a yellow card for him is an absolute banker. It is whether Emery goes for the resoluteness of Matteo Guendouzi or the aggressive nature of Lucas Torreira. I would probably play Guendouzi and Torreira then Mesut Ozil and my two favourites Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Lacazette is the link-man and can turn defences around - he sacrifices a bit more. Aubameyang has been amazing and has got the Golden Boot but Lacazette has been better for me.
Ozil can deliver on big stage
"If the money comes in for Mesut Ozil this summer I think Emery will sell him. The money is good for Ozil, he likes it here but he gets stick from the fans. He will be thinking where to go next but where would he go? He's not going to go to China, and if he is forced out then he could choose where to go. There may be an avenue in Turkey, and he could glorify his career if he goes to somewhere where he could make a difference.
"Arsenal were the club who gave him the money - it wasn't his fault. They may not like him but he may get them to the Champions League here. If he puts on a magical performance then you can justify him staying. It's not about the salary or how consistent he is, but his reputation is about enjoying the big nights, not physically but technically.
"Chelsea may have to bring in Mateo Kovacic but when I look at the scenario where Ozil plays in the diamond shape behind Aubameyang and Lacazette, it plays into Arsenal's hands. Jorginho is not physical so it is teed up for Ozil. This is the time where he might just deliver for Arsenal. They are shaky and susceptible to the counter-attack but so are Chelsea. David Luiz is an accident waiting to happen, yet he can be amazing other weeks.
"I think it is bigger for Arsenal to get a result here. They have been out of the Champions League for two years. The manager has done well. The finances are starting to shrink in terms of buying power. If they were to get Champions League football, it would not make it a dramatic transfer window, but the deals will be cuter.
"The players that cost £20m-£25m will be better than what Arsenal currently have. Chelsea have been here too often. They go from the champions, to being poor, to running close, to being poor again. Chelsea have got the Champions League but they have the transfer embargo and are out of control at the moment, so it is bigger for Arsenal than it is Chelsea."
CHARLIE'S PREDICTION: Chelsea 2-3 Arsenal (33/1 with Sky Bet)