Premier League Storylines Dominate European Finals
It has been seven years since an English side raised the Champions League trophy, but that drought will come to an end on June 1st. Tottenham Hotspur will clash with Liverpool in an all-English final. There are Premier League storylines dominating each of the European finals as the 2018/19 campaign comes to an end. Chelsea will face Arsenal in the Europa League final, taking their London derby all the way to Baku, Azerbaijan. Manchester City defended their title in the English top flight this season. Now, the four teams who finished behind them in the table all have a chance at their own hardware.
Premier League Storylines Dominating the European Finals
This is the first time since Manchester United defeated Chelsea in the 2008 Champions League final that multiple English teams have had a shot at European glory in the same season. In recent years one of the prominent Premier League storylines is the shortcomings in European competitions. English sides have combined for just three titles in the last decade across the two competitions. This season, however, will end with both trophies residing in England.
For Chelsea and Arsenal, 2493 miles is a long way to travel just to run into that neighbour you don’t particularly like. Some of the best Premier League storylines often come from the local derbies. These two London rivals will take their animosity across the continent. Each club had an uneven season domestically. Chelsea scuffled at times but rebounded to finish third in the table. Arsenal failed to secure a top-four spot for the third consecutive season. Claiming this trophy would provide a mulligan for that, as they would earn a berth in the Champions League next fall.
Arsenal have never won this competition and doing so would provide a boost following another underwhelming domestic campaign. They are led by the goal-scoring duo of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. This pair have combined for 13 goals and four assists in 16 Europa League appearances. Veteran Petr Cech has handled the goalkeeping duties in this competition and will look to deny his former club’s chance for glory. The Gunners’ path to the final has been an explosive one; they have 17 goals in the eight knockout stage contests.
Chelsea survived a penalty shoot-out against Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-finals. The West London club have been stingy defensively on their road to Baku. They have only allowed six goals in eight knockout stage matches. Their wingers have carried them to the final, with both Willian and Pedro performing well on Thursdays. The Brazillian has three goals and seven assists in eleven appearances, while the Spanish veteran has netted four and set up three. This could also be the last Chelsea appearance for the brilliant Eden Hazard. Speculation surrounds whether he might move in the summer.
The Main Course
Either Liverpool or Tottenham are going to end a painful trophy drought, while the other will be heartbroken in Madrid. Each of these clubs have thrived under their current managers, but both Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino are still waiting to bring home some hardware. The final in Madrid will help to validate one of these amazing managers’ work, while the other with be left wanting once more. These clubs’ search for a trophy has been among the most discussed Premier League story-lines in recent years. On June 1st, one of them will be raising the most prestigious trophy in Europe.
Riot In Red
Liverpool had the best domestic season to ever not end with the title. They reached this final for a second consecutive year after overturning a 3-0 first leg deficit to mighty Barcelona. Klopp’s squad is lightning fast, both in attack and when closing down an opponent. Senegalese attacker Sadio Mane is having his best season as a professional. He has 26 goals in all competitions for the Merseyside club. A player to watch will be striker Divock Origi, who has stepped up in the absence of the injured Roberto Firmino. The Belgian bagged a brace in the second leg win over the Spanish Champions. He hasn’t exactly been prolific this season, but all of his goals seem to happen in crucial moments.
Pochettino’s Spurs have been fighting for respect in recent times, as they’ve made themselves a staple near the top of English football. Like their opponent in the final, they will look to shake the stigma of failing to win trophies, with a big performance. The hope is that star striker Harry Kane will be fit for the final after missing the two months with an ankle injury. Spurs survived thanks in large part to Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura. Son powered them past Manchester City with three goals across two legs. Moura netted a hat-trick in a semi-final come back for the ages over Ajax. Goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris will look to hoist the Champions League trophy just ten months after raising the World Cup trophy for France.
90 Minutes From Glory
Each of these four clubs is just one victory away from glory. They all have their own pressures and dreams resting on the performance in their respective final. It had been a slow decade for English teams in European competitions, but that has changed in 2019. Premier League story-lines abound in this year’s two European finals.