Arsenal’s 4-1 defeat to Chelsea in the Europa League Final was the club’s season in miniature. The Gunners started out well, looked promising, but at the business end of things, completely fell apart.
Arsenal bossed the first 35 to 40 minutes of the match but came away with nothing to show for it other than a penalty shout not given. Chelsea were struggling to defend the wingbacks, Sead Kolasinac in particular, but the final ball was disappointingly lacking. Kolasinac completed less than 50% of his passes in the first half. Had his service been better, Arsenal would have been up by at least one after 45 minutes.
The second half was all Chelsea. The Blues ruthlessly capitalized on basic errors by the Gunners — shoddy marking from Laurent Koscielny, a poor turnover from Ainsley Maitland-Niles, a brain-dead foul from Maitland-Niles, and a bad giveaway from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Simple mistakes had been a bugaboo for the club all season and simple mistakes did them in again.
That’s not to take anything away from Chelsea’s attackers, particularly Eden Hazard and Olivier Giroud. The two were brilliant on the evening, passing, moving, and combining in ways that left Arsenal defenders spinning and scratching their heads. When their club needed it, Chelsea’s best players shone bright.
Arsenal’s did not. Alexandre Lacazette missed chances. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was hardly involved. And they’ve sent out a search party to find Mesut Özil.
It’s a shame that Alex Iwobi’s wonder-strike is relegated to an “oh by the way” footnote. It was a great goal, and his play as a substitute was one of the precious few bright spots on the evening.
A disappointing end to a disappointing season. Arsenal are consigned to the Europa League for another year. This one is hard to swallow.