DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Europa League Final Breakdown

DraftKings Fantasy Soccer: Europa League Final Breakdown

This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.

Chelsea and Arsenal meet Wednesday in the UEFA Europa League final in the friendly confines of the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan, a mere 2,865 miles away from London. There have been plenty of complaints about the location of the match, as well as the number of tickets allocated to the clubs (6,000 each), and because of the distance from London, plus the lack of direct flights, neither club sold out their ticket allocation, with Arsenal returning 2,300 while Chelsea sold just 2,000. That being said, even if both sides sold every ticket they were given, it's unlikely their supporters would make a meaningful contribution in a stadium that holds 68,700.

And while we're on the topic of negative issues, Arsenal come into the match without Henrikh Mkhitaryan, whose had three assists in six Europa League appearance this season, because the club was not satisfied with the security measures being taken for an Armenian player having to play in Azerbaijan. I'm not going to go into a history lesson here (you can read all about it here), but Mkhitaryan's absence is definitely a blow to the Gunners. Additionally, Arsenal will be without Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), who has already signed a pre-contract with Juventus, Rob Holding (knee), Hector Bellerin (knee), Konstantinos Mavropanos (knock) and Denis Suarez (groin). On the plus side, Danny Welbeck (ankle) could be available after recovering from two ankle surgeries, though he's highly unlikely to start for a variety of reasons.

Chelsea are missing a

Chelsea and Arsenal meet Wednesday in the UEFA Europa League final in the friendly confines of the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan, a mere 2,865 miles away from London. There have been plenty of complaints about the location of the match, as well as the number of tickets allocated to the clubs (6,000 each), and because of the distance from London, plus the lack of direct flights, neither club sold out their ticket allocation, with Arsenal returning 2,300 while Chelsea sold just 2,000. That being said, even if both sides sold every ticket they were given, it's unlikely their supporters would make a meaningful contribution in a stadium that holds 68,700.

And while we're on the topic of negative issues, Arsenal come into the match without Henrikh Mkhitaryan, whose had three assists in six Europa League appearance this season, because the club was not satisfied with the security measures being taken for an Armenian player having to play in Azerbaijan. I'm not going to go into a history lesson here (you can read all about it here), but Mkhitaryan's absence is definitely a blow to the Gunners. Additionally, Arsenal will be without Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), who has already signed a pre-contract with Juventus, Rob Holding (knee), Hector Bellerin (knee), Konstantinos Mavropanos (knock) and Denis Suarez (groin). On the plus side, Danny Welbeck (ankle) could be available after recovering from two ankle surgeries, though he's highly unlikely to start for a variety of reasons.

Chelsea are missing a number of key contributors, and it seems likely they'll be without N'Golo Kante, who had recently recovered from a hamstring injury only to hurt his knee in training this past weekend. He hasn't been ruled out yet, but it seems unlikely that he'll start even if he passes a late fitness test. Players who we know are out include Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Achilles), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Achilles) and Antonio Rudiger (knee), all of whom were important players at various points this season.

In terms of motivations, Chelsea have already qualified for next season's Champions League after finishing third in the Premier League, but Arsenal need a victory Wednesday to book their spot because they finished fifth in the domestic table. That's not to say Chelsea have nothing to play for, as they'll end up with a significantly easier UCL draw if they come in as Europa League champions. Arsenal fans hoping for a back-door hand-shake agreement to let them win to guarantee five Premier League teams in the Champions League next season will be disappointed.

Chelsea are favored to win the match in regular time as +132 favorites on DraftKings as of Tuesday evening (EDT), with Arsenal's win odds at +210 and then a +235 draw. A level score after 90 minutes will mean extra time, and a draw after that will send the match to penalties. In fact, Chelsea are actually -134 to win the trophy while Arsenal are +110. Speaking of penalties, Chelsea advanced to the final after beating Eintracht Frankfurt in spot kicks in the semi-final, a situation Arsenal didn't have to deal with after dispatching Valencia 7-3 on aggregate. Wednesday's match is also not expected to be overly high scoring, with DraftKings showing -113 for over 2.5 goals but -107 for the under.

Eden Hazard, who is playing in what is expected to be his final match for Chelsea before transferring to Real Madrid, is the most expensive player on DraftKings, and understandably so. He has a significant role on set pieces (and basically a monopoly when Willian isn't on the pitch), he's Chelsea's most creative attacker, and while his 16 goals were impressive in their own right, he also led the Premier League with 15 assists. He actually hasn't played that many Europa League matches this season, though he did grab an assist in the second leg against Eintracht Frankfurt, giving him three assists in his last two starts in all competitions. While there's a significant salary difference between Hazard and Willian ($10,600), it seems more likely that cash-game players will focus on Hazard because of his consistency and upside, even if Willian has been a very solid floor scorer this season.

A "stars and scrubs" lineup build has been more popular than not in big soccer showdown slates, and there's definitely a path to making it work for the Europa League final. While they're the two-most expensive players, it's entirely possible to roster both Hazard and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ($12,500), who shared the Premier League Golden Boot this season with Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Aubameyang comes in with a ridiculous seven goals in his last four matches in all competitions, including a goal against Valencia in the first leg of their semi-final matchup and then a hat trick in the second. He also bagged a brace against Burnley in the Premier League finale to end atop the goal-scorer chart. Aubameyang has the highest anytime goal scorer odds in the match at +170 (37.04 percent), though Hazard is close behind at +180 (35.71 percent).

Willian is the likely floor pivot from Hazard because of his role on set pieces, though the Aubameyang pivot is different because he doesn't take free kicks, other than penalties. If you don't want to pay up for Aubameyang but still want some Arsenal goal-scoring upside, Alexandre Lacazette ($11,100) is the guy, especially after scoring three goals and assisting another in the two legs against Valencia. Aubameyang has the higher floor of the two, but Lacazette is no slouch with the third-best anytime goal scorer odds (+210, 32.26 percent) .

Arsenal's set-piece situation is always a bit cloudy, but there does seem to be a path where Granit Xhaka ($8,900) is over most corners. The absence of Mkhitaryan helps clear the path, and we also get to ignore a player who crossed only 17 of his 46 Premier League corners this season (Xhaka crossed 77 of 95). There's a possibility that Mesut Ozil ($5,800) or Lucas Torreira ($6,700) snag a few, but Xhaka seems to be the most likely; that being said, he also has the second-best odds to get carded (+150). Ozil's potential is definitely tempting at such a low price, especially since he was the leading chance creator on the team this season, but if I had a nickel for every time I rostered Ozil and he was a total bust then I wouldn't have to play DFS.

That group will generally be the main focuses for cash games, but they aren't enough to fill out full lineups for cash or GPPs. The Chelsea strikers are priced accordingly for tournaments, and while it seems a little silly to pay $10,800 for Olivier Giroud if he starts, no player has scored more Europa League goals this season (10 in 11 appearances) than the former Arsenal attacker. Feel free to play the revenge card all you want on that one if he gets the call ahead of Gonzalo Higuain ($10,300), who really hasn't done anything to justify a spot ahead of Giroud.

The Chelsea fullbacks always seems like good cash plays, but you have to pay midfielder prices for Marcos Alonso ($8,600), who has the most attacking upside of any defender in the match. Alonso had a goal and an assist in the first meeting between these two teams back on Aug. 16, a 3-2 Chelsea victory that also included goals from Alvaro Morata (remember him?) and Pedro ($11,300). Hazard didn't start that match but still grabbed an assist in 29 minutes off the bench. Meanwhile, Arsenal won the second meeting 2-0 on Jan. 19 thanks to goals from Lacazette -- assisted by Bellerin -- and Laurent Koscielny ($4,500) -- assisted by Sokratis Papastathopoulos ($4,800) -- but expecting the center-backs to get back on the scoresheet is probably asking too much. Then again, it's a showdown slate, and if you're going to be loading up on the top-priced players, there's every reason to think about rostering those guys, though David Luiz ($4,700) and Andreas Christensen ($3,900) will get more attention, the former because he occasionally takes direct free kicks and the latter because he could be the cheapest starter in the game. While Alonso is the defender most likely to make an impact, Cesar Azpilicueta ($7,400) had five Premier League assists this season, while Arsenal's Sead Kolasinac ($7,200) had the same in almost half the minutes. Kolasinac is expected to start as a left wing-back, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles ($7,100), who is classified as a midfielder, on the right. Maitland-Niles' scoresheet appearances have been almost non-existent this season, so while he's unlikely to be as owned as Kolasinac or Azpilicueta, he's also less likely to make it pay off.

Instead of the fullbacks, there are a few holding midfielders who...don't really do much for fantasy purposes. Chelsea's duo of Jorginho ($5,400) and Mateo Kovacic ($5,300) can have significant impacts on matches without doing anything requiring DraftKings points, while Ross Barkley ($6,800) is an interesting wildcard because he actually takes shots; for reference, Jorginho and Kovacic combined to take 47 shots in 4,909 minutes this season while Barkley fired 41 in 1,241. On the Arsenal side, Lucas Torreira ($6,700) is always worth consideration because of his well-rounded production from shots, crosses, fouls drawn and tackles won, though he's always more of a floor play than a ceiling one.

Big showdown GPPs with lots of entries usually bring up the question about whether it's worth rostering a substitute as a low-ownership play. Last season's Champions League finale saw the winner take home the big prize thanks to a Gareth Bale brace off the bench, and while there aren't Bale-like impactful players in this match, I don't think it's crazy to consider one of Higuain, Giroud or Pedro as a sub, and that applies even more to Aubameyang or Lacazette if they don't start together. Otherwise, I think it's a little nuts to rely on Alex Iwobi ($9,100), even if he's likely to be pretty low owned if he starts over Ozil. And if we're talking about going nuts, Kepa Arrizabalaga ($6,100) and Petr Cech ($5,700) are.......in the player pool.

Note: the stats in the table below, which is sortable by column, are from this season's Premier League matches only.

Player NameTeamPOSPriceFpts/90Flr/90MINGASSOGINTCRCCTKLWFCFSP
Eden HazardCHEM12,50046.229.92,9250.50.52.91.30.44.53.00.30.43.247.2
WillianCHEF10,60035.529.72,1080.10.32.70.90.67.23.40.90.51.345.0
Danny WelbeckARSF9,40035.415.91470.60.62.51.20.60.03.11.21.81.224.5
Pierre-Emerick AubameyangARSF12,00031.915.32,7310.70.23.11.30.31.41.10.60.40.816.9
Ruben Loftus-CheekCHEM9,70031.016.79830.60.22.60.71.00.21.61.10.92.149.1
PedroCHEF11,30030.020.81,7800.40.12.91.30.93.11.50.70.91.346.6
Alexandre LacazetteARSF11,10028.315.42,5050.50.32.91.10.51.01.10.61.81.920.6
Henrikh MkhitaryanARSM7,60027.417.51,6440.30.22.70.80.93.51.61.21.50.634.8
Ross BarkleyCHEM6,80027.117.91,2410.20.43.00.70.70.51.60.71.02.063.1
Aaron RamseyARSM10,00026.115.21,3280.30.42.20.90.61.01.71.21.41.443.0
Olivier GiroudCHEF10,80024.014.48330.20.43.51.10.30.11.90.21.30.719.3
Callum Hudson-OdoiCHEF11,60023.921.13910.00.21.40.70.75.12.11.40.21.441.0
Granit XhakaARSM8,90023.619.62,5010.10.11.00.41.34.61.41.01.61.969.0
Gonzalo HiguainCHEF10,30021.913.71,0920.40.03.81.20.10.21.20.60.50.220.1
Alex IwobiARSM9,10021.415.11,9720.10.31.60.60.62.61.80.60.40.633.8
Mesut OzilARSM5,80021.114.21,7410.30.10.60.30.22.22.30.30.51.151.2
Marcos AlonsoCHED8,60019.415.72,7610.10.11.50.21.33.21.11.50.91.252.2
Lucas TorreiraARSM6,70016.413.72,3790.10.11.00.21.61.10.61.51.42.952.6
Hector BellerinARSD4,60014.29.81,5330.00.31.10.21.22.30.50.70.90.438.8
Mateo KovacicCHEM5,30014.012.81,7440.00.11.40.20.40.41.31.51.01.769.7
Sead KolasinacARSD7,20014.010.41,8900.00.20.40.11.02.41.51.01.00.535.9
Cesar AzpilicuetaCHED7,40013.911.23,4030.00.10.50.21.13.10.71.61.00.457.1
N'Golo KanteCHEM6,20013.29.13,0950.10.10.80.21.30.61.31.21.00.451.6
EmersonCHED7,50013.013.06600.00.00.70.11.13.80.71.21.10.853.5
Ainsley Maitland-NilesARSM7,10012.99.89860.10.10.50.31.71.60.62.00.71.132.3
Nacho MonrealARSD6,50012.89.31,8610.10.20.30.21.51.40.50.80.81.049.5
Matteo GuendouziARSM5,10012.512.52,1420.00.00.70.21.30.60.71.11.02.658.9
Laurent KoscielnyARSD4,50012.47.61,3300.20.00.30.32.00.00.10.70.61.055.4
David LuizCHED4,70011.38.53,2390.10.10.90.21.00.10.60.90.90.864.1
Davide ZappacostaCHED6,90011.211.21250.00.01.40.72.20.70.70.01.40.743.2
JorginhoCHEM5,40010.79.43,1650.10.00.50.21.80.10.91.10.90.679.1
Konstantinos MavropanosARSD3,60010.510.51490.00.01.20.04.20.00.60.01.20.076.7
Mohamed ElnenyARSM5,20010.010.03790.00.01.70.00.50.71.21.00.20.059.8
Stephan LichtsteinerARSD6,4008.68.69400.00.00.10.00.92.90.30.91.11.036.1
Shkodran MustafiARSD4,3008.16.42,6150.10.00.60.32.00.40.21.61.50.349.7
Antonio RudigerCHED4,2008.07.32,8740.00.00.90.21.00.00.30.50.90.572.7
SokratisARSD4,8007.75.62,1990.00.10.50.11.10.00.21.01.51.050.8
Rob HoldingARSD4,0005.15.18070.00.00.20.01.30.10.20.80.70.259.9
Carl JenkinsonARSD4,4004.64.61650.00.00.00.00.01.60.61.10.60.031.6
Andreas ChristensenCHED3,9003.43.46150.00.00.00.00.60.00.00.61.20.462.2
Petr CechARSGK5,7001.81.85850.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.20.00.323.5
Bernd LenoARSGK5,6001.51.52,8350.00.00.00.00.10.00.00.00.00.220.3
Kepa ArrizabalagaCHEGK6,1001.41.43,2400.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.123.8

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew M. Laird
Andrew M. Laird, the 2017 and 2018 FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year, is RotoWire's Head of DFS Content and Senior Soccer Editor. He is a nine-time FSWA award finalist, including twice for Football Writer of the Year.
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