After a lengthy break of soccer picks here at The Sports Geek, we are back to tee up a big week. It all starts Wednesday as we have our first of two all-English affairs for a major European title. We will see two London rivals square off for the Europa League title, as Chelsea and Arsenal will lock horns for the title.
For both of these squads, the 2018-19 Premier League left a lot to be desired. Though they both welcomed in many new players and new coaches, neither side will head into the off-season fully satisfied, unless they win on Wednesday in Baku, Azerbaijan.
One early lineup note to factor into your own personal handicapping, is that Arsenal’s talented playmaker up front, Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be playing for the Gunners due to some complicated political reasons and Armeania’s ongoing dispute with Azerbaijan. Still though, there’s plenty of talent that will be on display here Wednesday afternoon, and for a more detailed look at the game tactics and lineups, please read on below the picks for our Europa League finals winner.
Chelsea vs. Arsenal Betting Odds:
Over 2.5 (-115)
Under 2.5 (-105)
Chelsea vs. Arsenal Pick:
Chelsea enter Wednesday evening primed to win this title for the second time, after hoisting the Europa League title back in 2013. Of course, this is nowhere near as prestigous as the coveted Champions League trophy, but after down years in London, both Chelsea and Arsenal are desperate for some sort of silverware.
Many pundits involved are predicting that Chelsea absolutely must win this match if manager Maurizio Sarri wants to preserve his job. The Chelsea boss has endured an up-and-down first season in London, and it’s been rumored that many are fed up with Sarri’s drama. In this clash, he will have a strong side at his disposal, even with a key injury to N’Golo Kante in the midfield. Replacing him, expect a tandem of the hounding Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic. They’ll be regularly tasked with providing service to the speedy Belgian in Eden Hazard, likely making his final Chelsea appearance if we are to believe the transfer rumors.
Arsenal will counter with their regular 3-4-1-2 formation, and head coach Unai Emery currently won’t have as many talented options available to him as Sarri will with Chelsea. It’s expected that Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira will make up the midfield for the Gunners, a stark contrast to the skill Chelsea will offer. Up front is where Arsenal has an advantage and can be dangerous, but you have to wonder about the service Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will regularly receive. That duo can be prolific, but in this fixture I don’t see them getting enough service of the ball to be effective on a frequent enough basis. Besides, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta remain stalwarts along the Chelsea backline and should be able to handle any sort of breakthrough.
Chelsea enters this clash as the healthier side and the more talented one. Though the Gunners know they need to win in order to move up and play Champions League soccer next year, that extra bit of motivation likely won’t propel them to victory. Chelsea’s midfield will absolutely overwhelm Arsenal in the middle of the pitch, playing a crucial role in ball-winning and distribution to their fiery front trio of Hazard, Pedro, and Olivier Giroud. Arsenal’s back-three will struggle and with their current defensive struggles, it’s easy to see Chelsea putting a couple beyond the aging Petr Cech. At a juicy plus-money price to win inside 90 minute, roll with the Blues to cap their season off with the Europa League title.
PICK = Chelsea (+119)