Chelsea trumped Arsenal 4-1 in Baku to lift the Europa League trophy for the second time in their history while crashing Gunners’ Champions League hopes.
Arsenal will be playing in the Europa League next season after a crushing defeat at the hands of London rivals Chelsea in Baku. The Gunners were somewhat the favourites to win the Europa League this season, but Chelsea taught them a harsh lesson. We had earlier outlined the importance of this final for Arsenal, but the Gunners are now in a precarious position with their future.
The game was a tale of two halves as both sides got at the end of several chances in the first half. The second half, however, was all Chelsea. Former Gunners’ striker, Olivier Giroud, opened the scoring with a brilliant header around the 48th-minute mark. He was soon followed by Pedro and Eden Hazard made it three from the penalty spot.
Alex Iwobi came on after the third goal was conceded and gave the travelling fans some hope with an excellent effort to make it 3-1. Eden Hazard, however, had plans to crush any lingering hope for Arsenal as he added a fourth Chelsea goal. Arsenal failed to respond from that point, and the game ended with Chelsea lifting the Europa League trophy.
How did Arsenal stars fare during this defeat to Chelsea in the Europa League Final?
Petr Cech – 7
Not the memory he wants to carry into retirement, but Cech stood his ground when called upon and he should not be blamed for the debacle. Made some excellent saves in both halves, but he should not be accused for any of those four goals scored by Chelsea.
Sokratis – 3.5
After a decent season, Sokratis struggled big time in what was his worst performance till date with Arsenal. He was good initially and defended well, especially in one-on-one situations involving Hazard. His capitulation during the second half was surprising yet horrific, especially for the second goal. For the fourth Chelsea goal, he was at fault for not keeping track of Giroud’s movements.
Laurent Koscielny – 3
Koscienly, like Sokratis, came into this game on the back of some impressive performances and put in a horrible display against Chelsea. If reports are accurate, this might have been his last ever Arsenal game, and he too would not want to look back at this one, given the lack of organisation at the back.
Nacho Monreal – 4
A surprising lack of reading of the game from Monreal, an aspect he is usually so good at. His positional awareness was completely off as he was time and again responsible for letting Chelsea barge down from his side. Was at fault for the crucial second Chelsea goal which effectively changed the course of the game.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 6
A classic tale of two halves. Maitland-Niles had a brilliant first period, where he controlled his side of the defence, especially his work against Hazard, got forward well and did everything just fine. The second period, he simply switched off and was left with questions to be asked. Should have pressed Emerson better for the first goal, while he was responsible for Chelsea’s third after conceding the penalty.
Sead Kolasinac – 5
On a surprising note, he was not as defensively exposed as his teammates were at the back. However, where he could have made it count was the final third, and he was wasteful, especially in the first half, completing just 47% of his passes. Had a few opportunities then to square it to one of the strikers, but was wasteful there as well.
Granit Xhaka – 5
Another example of contrasting halves, this time it’s Xhaka. Played well in the first period, creating some chances through some lovely balls into the box, but failed to do anything of that sort in the second period. Exposed in midfield and was overrun during counter attacks, all of which resulted in him having little or no control over the midfield areas.
Lucas Torreira – 5
His emotions after being substituted clearly showed his awareness of the performances he and his teammates had put in. With limited passing, he did handle the threat of Hazard well in the first half, but like others in his side, got exposed and lost control of everything they were doing post the break.
Mesut Ozil – 3
The Arsenal front three flopped miserably, and Ozil’s performance simply exemplified that factor. The question should be where was he during the game. Totally absent created little or no impact in what was the biggest game in Arsenal’s recent history.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 4
He too, like Ozil was absent from the match only to pop u[ occasionally on the right side. There were times when he did try to do things, but failed and could not link up with striker partner Lacazette for anything significant.
Alexandre Lacazette – 3
Wastefulness, poor finishing and a lack of control are the three aspects that portray Lacazette’s performance against Chelsea. Offered no threat whatsoever, especially when the game was pretty open in the first half. Outrun by Luiz at the back in the second and could not force his way through to do anything of significance.
Matteo Guendouzi – 5
Sent to make an impact when the game was virtually over. He did cause more misery when he failed to track Hazard for the fourth goal, but again, the game was lost by then.
Alex Iwobi – 6
After conceding three goals if there was any hope left for Arsenal fans, then Alex Iwobi indeed invoked it. Came off the bench to score a brilliant goal, but soon Arsenal conceded a fourth, and it was game over.
Joe Willock – 6
He could have scored a good goal when put through by Lacazette but couldn’t. Evidently offered more significant threat than Ozil, but could not make an impact as the game was already lost by then.