Loftus Cheek: Chelsea's season will only be a success with Europa League title

Huge game in Baku to come

It's been 17 days since the conclusion of the Premier League, but over the next few days we're going to see two all-English ties in two major cup finals.

Liverpool and Tottenham face off for the ultimate prize in club football in Madrid on Saturday in the UEFA Champions League final, but before that we have the Europa League final to look forward to.

Hosted over 2800 miles away over in Baku, Azerbaijan, London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal will be battling it out, each desperate for their first piece of silverware of the season.

Chelsea come into it as favourites and they know that they're guaranteed a return to the Champions League next season after finishing third in the Premier League, whereas the Gunners need to win to end their two year exile from European footballs elite competition.

So with that in mind you'd think that all the pressure is on Unai Emery's men coming into this encounter. However, tempers have been flaring in the build up to the big game after David Luiz and Gonzalo Higuain clashed in the Blues' final training session which lead to Sarri storming off. You have to see it to believe it...

Those scenes won't do Blues supporters' nerves any good but some words from midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek suggest that they're motivated for it, with the England star insisting that the Blues need to go all the way in Baku for the 2018/19 campaign to be regarded as a "success".

Speaking to Standard Sport, the 23 year-old said that "I don't know if we can call it a success, yet. Yes, we've secured Champions League but we still want to finish it off with a Europa League."

"We've had ups and downs this season but, all in all, it's been a decent season. We still have to stay focused and be ready for the final."

The Blues have plenty of experience to call upon in their ranks with the majority of the squad still remaining from their Premier League title winning campaign back in 2016/17, so they're certainly in good shape. But they do have one piece of major injury news which concerns RLC himself...

Ruben will be watching on from the sidelines

Following the completion of the Premier League season, Chelsea were involved in a lucrative friendly over in the United States, much to the dismay of head coach Maurizio Sarri who wanted the Europa League to be his sole focus.

But the Italian had little say in the matter, with the club needing to head over there for commercial reasons and it came at an enormous cost. With England man Loftus-Cheek suffering a major achilles injury that's going to rule him out for up to a year. He'll miss this one, the UEFA Nations League with the Three Lions and the majority of next season so it's a crushing blow.

He'll be watching on from the sidelines in Baku and he's desperate for his teammates to bring the trophy back to West London. "(Winning the Europa League will be) Massive, because we've had ups and downs and we've done so well to get back into the Champions League, get third place and to lift a trophy in Europe would top it off."

Ruben Loftus-Cheek
RLC's physicality and driving runs will be severely missed by Chelsea in Baku, with the 23 year-old growing in stature throughout the campaign

All English European ties are always a gripping watch but it's not often that finals include teams from the same city, so this all London encounter should be pulsating encounter. Being from the capital itself, this match will mean more to Loftus-Cheek than the majority of his teammates and opponents:

"It's a derby so we look forward to that and it's good for English football that, in the Champions League and Europa League, we have all-English teams in the final. But we hope to beat Arsenal!"

We're all set for some night at the Baku Olympic Stadium and we're excited to see how it plays out. Regardless of the result it looks like Maurizio Sarri could be moving on from Chelsea after being cut to 1/5 to become next Juventus boss. Whilst a win for Unai Emery would be his fourth title in four seasons in the Europa League which would be an absolutely sublime achievement.

Roll on Wednesday night...


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