Stunning comebacks from Tottenham and Liverpool set up the first all-English Champions League final in 11 years. Will Chelsea and Arsenal continue the success of English clubs in Europe this week and book another in the Europa League?
If that was not enough, Tottenham followed Jurgen Klopp’s side’s example, producing a stunning second-half comeback against Ajax to rival the Reds’ miracle win over Barcelona and set up an all-English clash at the Wanda Metropolitana on June 1.
The dust has hardly settled on what was a dramatic couple of nights in the Champions League but attention now turns towards the Europa League semi-finals with Chelsea and Arsenal looking to make what has been an unbelievable week for English football even better.
Will the London clubs make it an unprecedented season for English clubs in Europe?
Chelsea and Arsenal have edge
It’s all to play for at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea and Eintracht Frankfurt all square after their 1-1 draw in the first leg last week.
However, Pedro’s vital away goal, which cancelled out Luka Jovic’s opener, has given Maurizio Sarri’s side a slight edge as they look to book their place in the final at the Olympic Stadium in Baku.
In the other semi-final, Arsenal have a commanding lead after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s late goal handed the Gunners a 3-1 lead over Valencia after the first leg.
The Gabon striker volleyed in from close-range in the final minute to give Arsenal a more comfortable advantage than they had seemed likely to take back to the Mestalla next Thursday, turning in Sead Kolasinac’s pinpoint cross.
Things had looked like panning out very differently with Valencia taking an early lead through Mouctar Diakhaby. But Alexandre Lacazette’s double and Aubameyang’s late strike left Arsenal in pole position to reach their first European final since 2006.
Chelsea team news
Eden Hazard is expected to receive his third Europa League start of the season against Eintracht Frankfurt at Stamford Bridge.
The Belgium international has played just 272 minutes in this season’s competition, but Maurizio Sarri is likely to bring him back into the fold as the Blues look to secure their place in the final in Baku.
N’Golo Kante has been ruled out of contest with a hamstring injury, with Sarri confirming the France international faces a battle to be fit for the final on May 29, should Chelsea qualify.
Mateo Kovacic is expected to deputise in midfield in Kante’s absence, while Europa League regulars Emerson Palmieri, Willian and Olivier Giroud are in line to start.
Frankfurt welcome back Croatia forward Ante Rebic ahead of the trip to London. His return could see Mijat Gacinovic drop to the bench, while striker Sebastien Haller (stomach) is unavailable.
Arsenal team news
Youngsters Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock have both been included in Arsenal’s squad.
Aaron Ramsey, Denis Suarez, Hector Bellerin, Danny Welbeck and Rob Holding are out.
Sarri: We deserve a trophy
Chelsea head coach Sarri insists his side “deserve” to win a trophy this season.
The Blues secured a top-four finish in the Premier League on Sunday with a 3-0 win over Watford but they still have the chance to win their first piece of silverware since Sarri replaced Antonio Conte.
“I am delighted at achieving the club’s target of making the top four,” Sarri said. “We want to reach the Europa League final and win it because we deserve a trophy this season.
“It’s not easy because we have to play a dangerous team as we saw in the first leg. They’re dynamic and aggressive and when they can find spaces, it’s a dangerous match. In a semi-final you have to play against a strong team with very strong players. It’s difficult to be the favourite in a semi-final.”
Emery: ‘Everyone wants EL win’
After being held to a 1-1 home draw by Brighton on Sunday, the Gunners’ hopes of finishing in the Premier League’s top four are all but over.
That means Emery, who won three successive Europa League titles during his time at Sevilla, must guide his team to Europa League glory if he is to end his first season in charge by taking Arsenal back to the continent’s elite club competition.
“I first competed for this title here at Valencia when it was still the UEFA Cup and was a lesser title than I think it is now,” he said. “It has grown. It’s an important title for all those teams that are not in the Champions League – and for some who drop into it as a second chance, like Valencia this season.
“It’s a title they all want to win. Giving teams a Champions League place through the Europa League is a fair reward. I have seen that shift. The first time I won it with Sevilla, we didn’t get Champions League access; the second time, we did. It’s an attractive title and it’s getting more attractive: we’ve seen Manchester United, Atletico, Sevilla against Liverpool.
“The demands are high and everyone wants it, as a title, not just a way in [to the Champions League]. At any club like Arsenal or Valencia, titles have to be the objectives. Arsenal only have two European titles in their history: the old Fairs Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup, neither of which [still] exist, so I have a lot of ambition to win a title.”