When you think of English football rivalries, not many come bigger than Arsenal and Chelsea. The Londoners are set to face off in the UEFA Europa League final on 29th May and the game promises to be a classic. Over the years, fixtures between the two sides often generate a whole host of controversies and talking points, and it’ll hardly be a surprise to see this trend extend in Baku’s Olympic Stadium.
The Azerbaijani capital is hosting this year’s finale, with the UEFA Europa League odds on Betfair pitting Chelsea as the slight favourites currently. From Arsenal’s perspective, a win will be much more welcoming as it will mean automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League. In the build up to the final, we’ve identified five memorable clashes from yesteryear to get you in the mood for the Europa League climax.
Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal – League Cup final – 2007
The League Cup isn’t held in high regard amongst English football fans but Chelsea and Arsenal took the competition’s finale as an opportunity to kick lumps out of each other. All-in-all, there were seven bookings and three red cards (Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor & John Obi Mikel) and a very nasty injury to Chelsea captain John Terry, who was knocked unconscious and swallowed his tongue. The Blues had the last laugh though, after they edged out the Gunners 2-1, with a brace from Didier Drogba which cancelled out Theo Walcott’s opener.
Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal – Premier League – 2011/12
Arsenal have found wins few and far between at Stamford Bridge over the last decade, with just a solitary victory since 2008. That win came in the 2011/12 season, as Arsenal banished their west London hoodoo and blew their hosts away, winning 5-3 in a pulsating clash. Robin van Persie helped himself to a hat-trick with Andre Santos and Walcott also chipping in. The Blues’ goals came via Terry, Frank Lampard and Juan Mata, but the game was littered with defensive errors from both sides.
Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal – Premier League – 2013/14
Arsenal legend Arsène Wenger was celebrating his 1000th game in charge of the Gunners, but he certainly wasn’t in a party mood come the final whistle. The Blues tore into Wenger’s men in this one sided clash, and found themselves 3-0 up inside 17 minutes.
Kieran Gibbs was wrongfully dismissed in a case of mistaken identity and a strike from Oscar saw Chelsea four goals to the good at the interval. Another goal from the Brazilian and a strike from a certain Mohamed Salah inflicted one of Wenger’s heaviest ever defeats during his tenure as Arsenal boss.
Chelsea 2-3 Arsenal – Premier League 1999/00
This game has gone down in Premier League folklore and rightly so, thanks to the exertions of Nwankwo Kanu. One of Arsenal’s few wins in SW6 is arguably their greatest in the Premier League era and it’s all due to the impact from the Nigerian striker, who blitzed the hosts with a 15 minute treble. Chelsea were left distraught after taking a commanding 2-0 lead with just over 50 minutes gone, but Kanu turned the game on its head as he led the Gunners to a priceless and seemingly impossible victory. His goals weren’t bad either, the final of which saw Kanu seal victory after he bent the ball home from near the corner flag with Chelsea goalkeeper Ed de Goey stranded.
Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea – Champions League – 2003/04
The only time the two sides have faced each other in Europe came back in 2004, when Chelsea beat their rivals for a spot in the Champions League semi-final. The first-leg at Stamford Bridge saw the sides cancel each other out with a 1-1 draw, but a very unlikely source proved the Blues hero in the return leg at Highbury. Wayne Bridge scored in a 2-1 win with just three minutes remaining, sending the West Londoners through on aggregate 3-2. It appeared that Arsenal would be set for their first Champions League semi-final as Jose Antonio Reyes put Wenger’s side ahead. A Lampard equaliser put the tie back in the balance before Bridge lashed home the winner on 87 minutes.