Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

In the Red and Blue Corners Are Two Fighters in Desperate Need of Victory

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

In the Red and Blue Corners Are Two Fighters in Desperate Need of Victory

Article excerpt

Chelsea v arsenal (8pm, Baku, BT Sport 2/YouTube) James Olley THE weight of history is heaviest on Arsenal, but Chelsea's pain of the present seems the greater burden.

Tonight's Europa League Final offers the Gunners the chance to secure their first European silverware in 25 years and a get-out-of-jail shot at qualifying for the Champions League. The Blues have already booked their place in Europe's premier competition next season and won this trophy only six years ago.

Theirs is a club ruthlessly built to win and, of course, the current crop will want to continue that success.

But there is a lingering sense that victory here in Baku would not quicken the pulse to the same extent as past glories and it might not even be enough to keep manager Maurizio Sarri at the club.

Chelsea managed a passable attempt at unity in their pre-match media conferences, but Sarri's antics towards the end of a training session which N'Golo Kante had already left due to injury only underlined the tensions the Blues must overcome.

There is plenty of speculation as to why Sarri threw his baseball cap to the floor and stormed off the Olympic Stadium pitch with last night's session yet to finish. Chelsea claimed it was due to his frustration over UEFA regulations demanding the whole hour was open to media and therefore the Italian was unable to work on setpieces with all those eyes watching on. Whatever the deeper issues Sarri fended off questions about his future and links with Juventus for the umpteenth time last night the very least that can be said is the overall picture is hardly one of the unity expected on the eve of a major final.

In fact, the sight of a manager under pressure, a leading player struggling with injury and another being heavily linked with an unwanted summer departure, is often the preserve of Arsenal and so the roles have been reversed to some extent. …

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