Although it took almost a century of rivalry before Arsenal and Chelsea first faced each other in a Cup final, since the turn of the millennium, it has become a fairly regular occurrence. In the last 20 years, the two teams have faced each in the final of three major competitions, with the current head-to-head status standing three wins to the Gunners and two to the others.
Ironically, both teams consider Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) as their bitterest rivals. Arsenal because they and Spurs are also contesting bragging rights to be top dogs in North London and Chelsea, because of a long tradition of needle between the two sets of fans dating back to the 1967 FA Cup Final.
Nevertheless, there is little love lost when Arsenal and Chelsea meet in a major final.
In this three part series, here is a brief look back at each of those finals.
2002 FA Cup Final
The two teams’ first meeting in a major tournament showpiece was in the 2002 FA CUP Final.
Both had recent experience of winning the trophy. Chelsea had won it two years, previously at Wembley, beating Aston Villa by a single goal in the last final before the venue was temporarily switched to Cardiff in South Wales.
Arsenal had won the trophy In 1998, and had also appeared in the final the previous year. They had dominated the match against Liverpool, saw a certain penalty and red card to Liverpool’s Stefan Honchoz denied, when the match officials somehow missed he had handled the ball on the line, and then, having struck the woodwork several times, took the lead through Freddie Ljungberg.
But two opportunistic strikes by Michael Owen meant the trophy ended up on Merseyside instead.
This time Arsenal were chasing the league and cup double, whilst Claudio Ranieri was chasing his first silverware in West London.
The first half was largely devoid of chances, with both sides cancelling each other out, the best effort falling to Arsenal full-back Lauren who headed just over the crossbar.
Midway through the second-half, Arsenal took the lead through an unlikely source, midfielder Ray Parlour, a man not known for his goalscoring exploits.
The moment became famous for Chelsea fan Tim Lovejoy, providing live TV commentary saying “its okay, its only Ray parlour” when he picked the ball up from Sylvain Wiltord’s pass. But, as the Chelsea defence backed-off, parlour decided to try his luck from distance, and his effort found the top corner from 25 yards.
That was an excellent goal and it was matched by an equally good one ten minutes from time. Ljungberg picked the ball up on the left-side of the area, bounced off a challenge from John Terry and them unleashed a curling effort from the edge of the box.
Arsène Wenger had his second double and Arsenal their third.
Andy is an exiled English football fan living in Cyprus. He loves all sports but football is his abiding passion, and he still has dreams every now and then about scoring the winning goal in a Wembley Cup Final, even though his playing days are long gone. He follows most major leagues, across Europe at least, and has a favoured team in each. When he’s not watching, listening, reading or downloading podcasts about football, he spend his time worrying about his beloved Arsenal.