Thursday 20 June 2019

GALLERY: Arsenal and Chelsea fans soak up the Baku sun ahead of Europa League final

Arsenal fans before the UEFA Europa League final at The Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Arsenal fans before the UEFA Europa League final at The Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Arsenal fans in Dovlet Bayraq Meydani before the UEFA Europa League final at The Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 29, 2019. See PA SOCCER Europa. Photo credit should read: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire
Arsenal fans pose for a picture in front of Maiden Tower before the UEFA Europa League final at The Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 29, 2019. See PA SOCCER Europa. Photo credit should read: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire
Soccer Football - Europa League Final - Fans Gather Ahead Of Chelsea v Arsenal - Baku, Azerbaijan - May 29, 2019 Arsenal fans REUTERS/Aziz Karimov
Soccer Football - Europa League Final - Fans Gather Ahead Of Chelsea v Arsenal - Baku, Azerbaijan - May 29, 2019 Chelsea fans REUTERS/Aziz Karimov
Soccer Football - Europa League Final - Fans Gather Ahead Of Chelsea v Arsenal - Baku, Azerbaijan - May 29, 2019 Chelsea fans REUTERS/Aziz Karimov
Soccer Football - Europa League Final - Fans Gather Ahead Of Chelsea v Arsenal - Baku, Azerbaijan - May 29, 2019 Arsenal and Chelsea fans pose for a photograph REUTERS/Aziz Karimov
Chelsea fans prior to the UEFA Europa League final at The Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 29, 2019. See PA SOCCER Europa. Photo credit should read: Steven Paston/PA Wire
A Chelsea fan poses for a picture prior to the UEFA Europa League final at The Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 29, 2019. See PA SOCCER Europa. Photo credit should read: Steven Paston/PA Wire
Fans pose for a picture prior to the UEFA Europa League final at The Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 29, 2019. See PA SOCCER Europa. Photo credit should read: Steven Paston/PA Wire
Arsenal fans make their way into the fan zone prior to the UEFA Europa League final at The Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 29, 2019. See PA SOCCER Europa. Photo credit should read: Steven Paston/PA Wire
An Arsenal fan poses for a picture before the UEFA Europa League final at The Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 29, 2019. See PA SOCCER Europa. Photo credit should read: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire

Fans of Arsenal and Chelsea have been making the most of their trip to the Azerbaijani capital Baku ahead of tonight's much-awaited Europa League final.

Managers of both clubs, Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery, both expressed their frustration at the travel issues that meant so few Chelsea and Arsenal fans have been able to make it to Azerbaijan for the Europa League final.

Those that did make the trip were soaking in the hot temperatures ahead of tonight's showdown.

The Premier League sides are separated by just six miles in London, yet those wanting to watch their side compete for continental glory have had to make a nearly 5,000-mile round trip to Baku.

Offered a mere 6,000 tickets per club, neither have managed to get anywhere near selling out due to the fact it takes too long or is too costly to head east to Azerbaijan for the match.

Those problems have dominated the build-up to the Europa League final and left Chelsea boss Sarri unimpressed.

"I don't know what to say about the problems," he said. "You'll have to ask UEFA, the clubs.

"I am really very disappointed because we do this job for this kind of match, and so we hope to see our fans here. I don't know what to say. I can say only that we will try to win.

"We will try to win for us and also for them."

Arsenal have also had to deal with the complication of Azerbaijan's tensions with Armenia.

Some season ticket holders with dual British and Armenian citizenship were denied visas, while attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan decided to stay at home despite assurances about his safety.

There appeared more Arsenal than Chelsea shirts around Baku on the eve of the final but Emery would have liked more to have been able to make it.

"It's not in my hands," the Gunners head coach said. "I played also one Super Cup final with Sevilla against Barcelona in Tblisi, Georgia, three years ago.

"They have their reasons to play here and I must respect these decisions.

"After, yes, I prefer to play with our supporters here, that a lot of supporters can come here from us and from Chelsea from London, but it's difficult for this flight."

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