Europa League: Turbulent Chelsea hosts Frankfurt, Arsenal out to save season

Chelsea hosts Eintracht Frankfurt with an away goal advantage, while Unai Emery will hope for another Europa League final appearance with Arsenal carrying a 3-1 first-leg lead against Valencia.

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri will be hoping to guide the team to the Europa League final after going through a tough season.   -  Getty Images

After Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur conjured up sensational turnarounds to set up an all-English Champions League final, Arsenal and Chelsea will look to follow suit in the Europa League by the reaching the final with wins over Valencia and Eintracht Frankfurt respectively in the second-leg of their semifinal clashes on Thursday.

Chelsea's domestic performances have been patchy with the dressing room divide between the players and the manager, yet the club sits third in the Premier League table with a Champions League place intact.

Pedro cancelled out the Luka Jovic's opener at Frankfurt to extend the Blues' 16-match unbeaten record in the competition and will look to capitalise on the away goal advantage.

Eden Hazard likely return to the playing XI should raise hopes among Chelsea supporters but N'golo Kante's hamstring injury leaves the midfield weaker with Jorginho and Kovacic unimpressive so far. The home team will also look up to Olivier Giroud, who is leading the scoring charts with 10 goals, to fire.

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The Bundesliga club's rise was evident after it beat Bayern Munich to win the DFB Pokal last season. Currently placed fourth in the league table, Adi Hutter's men have taken the Europa League by storm with their fast-paced game. Luka Jovic, who has attracted the attention of Real Madrid, has been in prime form scoring 25 goals in all competitions.

Ante Rebic's return to the side will add an extra dimension in the final third for the visitor while Sarri's rigid 4-3-3 could be in for a tough time against a fluid counter-attacking 3-5-2 of Frankfurt.

- Only respite for Emery and Arsenal -

Arsenal's collapse at the business end of the Premier League season means the success or failure of Unai Emery's first campaign now solely depends on lifting the Europa League, which will seal participation in the Champions League next season. The Gunners travel to Emery's old club Valencia defending a 3-1 semi-final first leg lead.

 

Arsenal's awful record on the road this season will give the Spanish side plenty of encouragement that it can overturn a two-goal deficit. Arsenal has taken one point from its last four Premier League games to realistically end their chances of a top-four finish and the first leg against Valencia could easily have gone the same way as Marcelino's men scored an early away goal and led the Gunners to a merry dance for the first 20 minutes.

It was the individual brilliance from Lacazette and Aubameyang that unlocked Valencia's defence and presented Arsenal with a two-goal cushion. Attack may therefore be the visitors' best form of defence in the cauldron of the Mestalla.

Valencia bounced back from three consecutive losses with a 6-2 win over Huesca on Sunday and as it looks to secure a top-four finish in La-Liga. Laurent Koscielny will be tasked with containing Goncalo Guedes' runs behind the defence as the Gunners look to reach the final since 2000.

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