Europa League Final: Maurizio Sarri vs Unai Emery

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 29 May 2019, 11:57

The Europa League final takes centre stage in Baku tonight when Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea lock horns with Unai Emery’s Arsenal.

The clash represents the first all-English final since the competition’s inaugural season (1971/72) when Bill Nicholson led Tottenham to victory over Bill McGarry’s Wolves.

Emery will be looking to complete his first season as Arsene Wenger’s successor with a trophy in hand.

Arsenal missed out on a top-four league finish and disappointed in both domestic cups, but the Europa League is a competition the Spaniard has thrived in, having triumphed three times with Sevilla between 2014 and 2016.

Another win would make Emery the most successful manager in UEFA Cup / Europa League history with four trophies. In the process, he’d become only the fourth boss to triumph with two clubs, after Jose Mourinho, Rafa Benitez, and Giovanni Trapattoni.

A piece of silverware is something that has eluded Sarri throughout a managerial career that began in the early 1990s. The Italian did come close a few months ago though, only for Chelsea to be pipped on penalties by Man City in the League Cup final - the first piece of Pep Guardiola’s unprecedented English domestic treble.

Chelsea do have a habit of winning silverware with an Italian manager at the helm, the most recent of which was the FA Cup under Antonio Conte last summer, while Roberto Di Matteo miraculously lifted the Champions League trophy in 2012.

There’s no doubting that Sarri has endured a tumultuous debut campaign in England, but while Sarri-ball has failed to flourish, he could end the campaign with a 3rd-place league finish and a first trophy in the cabinet.

Although if reports are to be believed he's likely to be lured back to his homeland sometime soon with one of Juventus, AC Milan, or Roma.

Sarri and Emery have of course already done battle twice this season, in the Premier League. The first duel came back in August in the second wave of fixtures, which Chelsea edged 3-2 at the Bridge after Arsenal had come back from two goals down to draw level. The Gunners responded with a 2-0 win in mid-January.

You’d argue that there’s more pressure on Emery’s Arsenal given that Chelsea have already secured a spot in next season’s Champions League, however given his latest outburst - see below - it looks like it’s Sarri that’s feeling the heat ahead of tonight’s showpiece spectacle.

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