'I'm with you will all my heart': Mkhitaryan thanks Arsenal fans for support in face of UEL loss
An Arsenal side shorn of Henrikh Mkhitaryan suffered defeat to Chelsea in the Europa League Final but the Armenian's omission from the game for political reasons prompted waves of support in Baku for the creative playmaker.
A second-half collapse by Arsenal condemned them to a 4-1 defeat to London rivals Chelsea in what was a controversial, sometimes frustrating but ultimately entertaining Europa League Final in the Azerbaijan capital. The manner of Arsenal's defeat, which came from a barrage of Chelsea strikes in the opening stanza of the second half, highlighted further the absence of Mkhitaryan, the Armenian barred from the final owing to political tensions between his country and the host nation.Also on rt.com 'More empty seats than UKIP': Fans slam Baku Europa League Final for lacklustre atmosphere
Goals from Olivier Giroud, Pedro and a brace from the almost-certainly Real Madrid-bound Eden Hazard left Arsenal devoid of ideas and while it is speculation to wonder if the addition of Mkhitaryan's creativity could have sparked something extra from the Gunners, it certainly wouldn't have hurt. A sole strike, albeit a spectacular one, from Alex Iwobi was all they could muster in 90 minutes.
The Mkhitaryan situation cast an unusual palor over the game, though in the streets of Baku some fans made clear before the game that the situation which prohibited the Armenian from taking part was unacceptable - a gesture which was appreciated by the player himself.
"Much love to Arsenal fans," Mkhitaryan wrote on Twitter in response to a video posted of Arsenal fans chanting "Here’s to you Mkhitaryan, Arsenal loves you more than you will know" in support of him.
In a separate post upon kick-off of Wednesday's game, Mkhitaryan paid tribute to the Arsenal faithful who have remained faithful to their player throughout the controversy, many of whom actively boycotted travelling to the final.
Let’s go Gunners, let’s go out there on that field and conquer this trophy - for our club, for our fans and our beloved ones💪🏼🔥⚽️🏆 I’m with you with all my heart❤️🇦🇲 #BringItHome@Arsenal#COYG#UELFinalpic.twitter.com/JrmoUkLc04— Henrikh Mkhitaryan (@HenrikhMkh) May 29, 2019
"Let’s go Gunners, let’s go out there on that field and conquer this trophy - for our club, for our fans and our beloved ones," he wrote.
"I'm with you will all my heart."
Ultimately, though, it would be Chelsea's night and while the final was not without unique moments on the pitch it stands to reason that Mkhitaryan, fans of both teams and indeed UEFA themselves, will be glad that the 2019 Europa League Final is now firmly in the rearview mirror.