We are off to Baku Azerbaijan; the city is the scientific, cultural, and industrial center of Azerbaijan. Many sizeable Azerbaijani institutions have their headquarters there. The Baku International Sea Trade Port is capable of handling two million tons of general and dry bulk cargoes per year. In recent years, Baku has become an important venue for international events. It hosted the 57th Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, the 2015 European Games, 4th Islamic Solidarity Games, the F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix since 2016, and now it will host the 2018-19 UEFA Europa League Final between London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea. It will also be one of the host cities for UEFA Euro 2020.
Baku is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. Baku is located 28 metres (92 ft) below sea level, which makes it the lowest lying national capital in the world and also the largest city in the world located below sea level. Baku lies on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, alongside the Bay of Baku. At the beginning of 2009, Baku’s urban population was estimated at just over two million people. Officially, about 25 percent of all inhabitants of the country live in Baku’s metropolitan area. Baku is the sole metropolis in Azerbaijan.
Baku is divided into into twelve administrative raions and 48 townships. Among these are the townships on the islands of the Baku Archipelago, and the town of Oil Rocks built on stilts in the Caspian Sea, 60 kilometres (37 miles) away from Baku. The Inner City of Baku, along with the Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower, were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. According to the Lonely Planet’s ranking, Baku is also among the world’s top ten destinations for urban nightlife.
The city is renowned for its harsh winds, which is reflected in its nickname, the “City of Winds”.
Now let’s talk about football.
The first league meeting between the two teams took place on 9 November 1907 at Stamford Bridge (112 years ago). This was the first Football League First Division game played between two London clubs and drew a crowd of 65,000.
A match between the clubs at Stamford Bridge in 1935 drew a crowd of 82,905, the second highest recorded attendance for an English league match. They met in two close contested FA Cup semi-finals in the 1950s, with Arsenal winning both times.
The clubs have contested three major finals: the 2002 FA Cup Final, which Arsenal won 2–0, the 2007 Football League Cup Final, which Chelsea won 2–1, and the 2017 FA Cup Final, which Arsenal won 2–1.
The two teams have also met in the UEFA Champions League in the quarter-finals in 2003–04, drawing 1–1 at Stamford Bridge, and Chelsea winning 2–1 at Highbury to go through to the semi-finals. (a bitter memory for Arsenal fans)
Throughout the 112 year history Arsenal has won more games in all competitions than Chelsea, having won 76 times to Chelsea’s 63, with 58 draws (as of 19 January 2019). Arsenal’s record win was a 5–1 victory in a First Division match at Stamford Bridge on 29 November 1930.
Arsenal has also won more league games – GP164, W63, D49, L52, GF231, GA210.
The last game was at The Emirates on January 19th 2019 when Arsenal won 2-0 with goals from Lacazette (14) and Koscielny (39).
The journey of 2,709 miles will be an arduous one for both teams.