Injured Antonio Rudiger joins his Chelsea team-mates as Blues head off to Baku for Europa League final against Arsenal after Maurizio Sarri puts side through training session
- Chelsea have trained for the final time in England before heading to Baku
- Maurizio Sarri put his squad through their paces at Cobham on Monday
- They then boarded the coach for the airport and their flight to Azerbaijan
- Blues take on Arsenal in the UEFA Europa League final on Wednesday night
Chelsea are on their way to Baku for Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League final showdown with London rivals Arsenal.
Having trained one final time at their Cobham base on Monday, the Blues boarded their team coach and headed to the airport for the five-and-a-half hour flight to the capital of Azerbaijan.
Both teams are entering their final preparations ahead of Wednesday night’s final at the Olympic Stadium, though Arsenal have already been out in Baku for two days to acclimatise.
A smiling Jorginho boards the coach for the airport as Chelsea depart for Baku on Monday
Willian prepares to board the team bus at Cobham as Chelsea jet off to Azerbaijan
Cesar Azpilicueta was in high spirits as Chelsea prepare for their 5.5 hour flight to Baku
David Luiz waves to the cameras as he steps onto the team bus to the airport on Monday
Mateo Kovacic boards the coach after one final training session at Cobham on Monday
Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga gets ready for the long journey to Baku for the final
Azerbaijan is three hours ahead of London time, meaning the final will not kick-off until 11pm local time, certainly a much later playing time than usual for both sets of players.
There was certainly an intensity about Chelsea’s training session on Monday as Maurizio Sarri put his squad through their paces before settling on his final team selection.
Chelsea suffered a blow over the weekend with the news that midfielder N’Golo Kante will miss the final after twisting his knee in training on Saturday.
It leaves Sarri short of options in midfield after Ruben Loftus-Cheek ruptured his left Achilles tendon in the friendly against New England Revolution last week.
Kante’s setback means Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley will be Sarri’s only fit central midfielders for the final.
Ross Barkley and Gonzalo Higuain in the thick of the action in Chelsea’s training session
Brazilian defender Luiz passes as Chelsea training for the final time before flying out
Olivier Giroud gets the better of goalkeeper Willy Caballero during training at Cobham
Cesar Azpilicueta and Mateo Kovacic compete for the ball during Monday’s practice match
Cesar Azpilicueta takes a tumble to the amusement of his team-mates in Monday’s training
Eden Hazard in possession during a training match as the countdown to the final continues
Coach Maurizio Sarri issues instructions during Chelsea’s last training session on English soil
Supporters of both sides are beginning to arrive in a trickle to Baku, with most having endured long journeys involving multiple flight connections.
There has been controversy over the choice of Baku, at the far eastern fringe of UEFA’s jurisdiction for the showpiece event.
Tickets have been returned because the host city is so difficult to reach from the UK.
Both clubs were allocated 6,000 tickets for the final in the 68,700-capacity stadium but there are set to be swaths of empty seats with Arsenal handing back 2,300 tickets and Chelsea around 4,000.
Arsenal also suffered a setback when Armenian player Henrikh Mkhitaryan decided not to travel because of political tensions between his native country and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.