Arsenal and Chelsea will contest an all-English Europa League final in Azerbaijan’s capital city Baku on Wednesday.
It is the first time two English sides will meet in the tournament’s showpiece since Tottenham beat Wolves over two legs in 1972 when the competition was known as the UEFA Cup.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at the main talking points.
Safety first for no-go Mkhitaryan
Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan will play no part in the final. The Armenia international will not be travelling due to the on-going dispute between his country and Azerbaijan. Despite assurances from Azerbaijan against any threat of violence, the 30-year-old was not convinced about his safety on the pitch and some Gunners fans have debated on social media whether to boycott the final in protest. He has featured in 11 of Arsenal’s 14 Europa League ties this season, but missed their group game against Qarabag in Baku in October for the same reason.
Problems getting there and Baku again
UEFA has been criticised for choosing Baku to host a major European final and apologised for the travel chaos experienced by both clubs’ fans, who face a round trip of 5,000 miles. Arsenal and Chelsea have been allocated only 6,000 tickets each, which represents 17 per cent of the 68,000-capacity Olympic Stadium, due to restrictions over the number of people Baku’s airport can handle. Despite concerns the stadium might only be two-thirds full, UEFA has defended its decision, saying it would be “utterly unfair to exclude certain venues just based on their decentralised geographical position”.
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