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May 29, 2019 at 8pm UK at Baku Olympic Stadium
Attendance: 51,370
Chelsea
4-1
Arsenal
Giroud (49'), Pedro (60'), Hazard (65' pen., 72')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Iwobi (69')

Wayne Bridge predicts "bad spell" for Chelsea

Wayne Bridge predicts
© Reuters
Chelsea face Arsenal in the Europa League final in Baku.

Wayne Bridge has backed Chelsea for Europa League glory but fears his former club is hampered by unhappiness and facing a bleak short-term future.

The Blues have endured a tumultuous first season under manager Maurizio Sarri and, unless an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport is successful, will be under a transfer embargo until the summer of 2020.

Italian Sarri appeared on the verge of being sacked in February but recovered to secure Champions League qualification and progression to Wednesday's Europa League final against Arsenal in Baku.

Retired left-back Bridge, who claimed the winner in the only previous European tie between Chelsea and the Gunners, feels a top-four Premier League finish and the potential for silverware masks the true extent of problems at Stamford Bridge.

"When you talk about it like that, it's probably not too bad because it probably could have been a lot worse," he told Press Association Sport.

"They've been really inconsistent. You can see the fans aren't really happy. I don't think the players are happy, and then probably the manager isn't either.

"I'm surprised he's still there. And with the transfer ban and everything, what are they going to do?

Maurizio Sarri has endured a difficult first season at Stamford Bridge
Maurizio Sarri has endured a difficult first season at Stamford Bridge (Steven Paston/PA)

"With Chelsea at the moment, it could end up going through a pretty bad spell.

"They can still achieve Champions League football (for the 2020/21 campaign) because when you look at the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and (Manchester) United, they haven't been great either.

"But will they compete (for the title) with Liverpool and (Manchester) City? I don't think so, unless there is no transfer ban and the manager gets to buy the players he wants, or a new manager comes in and changes it up a bit because it has been a poor season."

While Chelsea – who may also lose star man Eden Hazard this summer – have already secured Champions League qualification by finishing third in the top flight, Arsenal must win the final in Azerbaijan to join them.

Bridge says condemning the fifth-placed Gunners to a third-successive season in the Europa League should serve as an added incentive for Sarri's men.

"I think Chelsea will do it," he said. "I think they'll be (thinking) along the lines that Arsenal aren't going to get Champions League football if we win – well that's where I would be.

"And obviously you want to win a trophy as well."

It is 15 years since the only previous European encounter between the London rivals.

Bridge was the Highbury hero in April 2004 when the Blues shocked their near-neighbours in the Champions League quarter-finals during the first season of the Roman Abramovich era.

The 38-year-old has fond memories of his 87th-minute winner, which earned a 3-2 aggregate success against Arsene Wenger's side.

"I just remember running into the crowd, it was like the best buzz ever," said Bridge.

Wayne Bridge, right scored at Highbury after a neat one-two with Eidur Gudjohnsen
Wayne Bridge (right) scored at Highbury after a neat one-two with Eidur Gudjohnsen (Nick Potts/PA)

"The changing room was rocking afterwards. I remember (manager, Claudio) Ranieri crying on the side of the pitch.

"That for me was one of the highlights of my career. I don't score many goals, so to do it in the quarter-finals and against Arsenal when no one thinks we are going to win..."

Although Arsenal ended that campaign as unbeaten Premier League champions, they have not won the title since.

Chelsea have replaced them as the dominant force in the capital, winning five titles, the Champions League and the Europa League.

"People always talk about it being a turning point because then Chelsea kind of leapfrogged Arsenal. I don't think it was," continued Bridge.

"I just think we got the result and then Chelsea got to spend a bit more money after that."

:: Wayne Bridge was appearing at the latest Virgin Media #SuperSaints event which saw fans play at St Mary's Stadium. For more information, visit virginmedia.com/virgin-tv-edit/super-saints

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Alexandre Lacazette is pounced on by his teammates after equalising for Arsenal against Valencia in their Europa League semi-final on May 2, 2019
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CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina32211669
United StatesUnited States25292276
JapanJapan2071239
AustraliaAustralia1541635
Great BritainGreat Britain14181547
Today's Olympic highlights header

Wednesday's key events


SKATEBOARDING
· Team GB starlet Sky Brown - aged just 13 - takes part in the women's park event and has a realistic chance of picking up a medal too. Bombette Martin is Britain's other representative, while hosts Japan are among the favourites for gold (1am)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain's women have more history in their sights heading into their semi-final against Netherlands - the team they beat in the 2016 gold medal match (2.30am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's 400m hurdles final on Tuesday will go down as one of the greatest Olympic races of all time, and the women will attempt to emulate that, with new world record holder Sydney McLaughlin of USA and Netherlands' Femke Bol the favourites for gold (3.30am)
· Nick Miller is Britain's representative in the men's hammer throw final (12.15pm)
· The men's 800m final could be a wide-open affair (1.05pm)
· A thrilling men's 200m final is in store as the likes of Andre de Grasse, Noah Lyles and 17-year-old sensation Erriyon Knighton bid to succeed Usain Bolt as Olympic champion (1.55pm)

SAILING
· After a medal-laden day on the water on Tuesday, Great Britain will be looking for more success, starting with Luke Patience and Chris Grube in the men's 470-class medal race (6.33am)
· Team GB also have medal hopes in the women's event, with defending champion Hannah Mills looking to retain her crown alongside new teammate Eilidh McIntyre (7.33am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Great Britain's Frazer Clarke faces Uzbekistan's Bakhodir Jalolov in the men's super heavyweight with a place in the gold medal bout up for grabs (7.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also guaranteed a medal, but will look to ensure that is either gold or silver as he takes on Cuba's Arlen Lopez in the light heavyweight final (7.35am)

CYCLING
· World records have been tumbling in the velodrome, and another could go in the men's team pursuit final as Italy - new world record holders themselves - face Denmark (10.06am)

EQUESTRIAN
· Three Brits have made into into the final of the men's jumping individual final, including fastest qualifier Ben Maher, who will bid to inherit compatriot Nick Skelton's Olympic crown (11am)

> Today's schedule in full
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