Saturday, August 13, 2022

Arsenal v Chelsea- Cup Classics

Arsenal and Chelsea have met 17 times in the FA Cup, with Arsenal winning 7, losing 4 and drawing 6. This year’s Wembley showpiece is a repeat of the 2002 Final played at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, when Arsenal prospered 2-0 on their way to a domestic double.

On Saturday, Arsene Wenger’s men will be looking to stop the Blues from achieving that very feat. Tim Stillman looks back at five classic cup encounters between the teams.

Round 2. 30th January, 1915. Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 1 – 0 Arsenal

Arsenal; Lievesley, Benson, Shaw, Buckley, McKinnon, Grant, Rutherford, King, Lewis, Flanagan, Bradshaw.

The first time the teams drew one another in the famous old trophy occurred in 1915, during the First World War. Competitive football continued unabated during the 1914-15 season, despite the outbreak of The Great War, it was only after the FA Cup Final- which Chelsea lost to Sheffield United at Old Trafford- that the programme was suspended. That final was known as “the Khaki final” due to the number of wounded servicemen in attendance.

Arsenal were still marooned in the Second Division when this tie was played and settling into their new North London environs. The Gunners had made light work of Merthyr Town in the first round, while Chelsea needed a replay to defeat Southern League side Swindon Town.

A Harold Halse goal late in the first half was enough to win the tie for the Blues on this occasion in front of 40,000 spectators. Halse would later become the first player to appear in FA Cup Finals for three different clubs.

Round 3. 11th January, 1930. Highbury
Arsenal 2 – 0 Chelsea

Arsenal; Lewis, Parker, Hapgood, Roberts, Haynes, John, Bastin, Hulme, Lambert, Jack, Thompson.

By the time the clubs met again in the FA Cup, Arsenal were in much ruder health and Europe, temporarily at least, was released from the grip of conflict. The Gunners had made it to the 1927 FA Cup Final, but suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Cardiff City at Wembley. Arsenal were still in search of their first major trophy and little did they know at the time, that this home tie against Chelsea would be their first step towards it.

The Gunners won the cup for the first time in this campaign, beating Herbert Chapman’s old side Huddersfield Town in the final. The germ of a team that would dominate the 1930s was coming together. Cliff Bastin set a record in this match as the club’s youngest ever goalscorer in an FA Cup match, which stands to this day.

The Devon born winger was 17 years and 303 days old when he rattled a second half effort past Chelsea ‘keeper Simeon Millington. It was the first of Bastin’s 29 FA Cup goals for the club- this is also an Arsenal record that remains. Jack Lambert, who would go onto score in the final, opened the scoring in the first half in front of 55,000 at Highbury.

Semi-Final. 18th March, 1950. White Hart Lane.
Arsenal 2 – 2 Chelsea
Compton Bentley (2)

Arsenal; Swindin, Scott, Barnes, L Compton, Forbes, Mercer, D Compton, Lewis, Goring, Cox, Logie.

These two London rivals squared up in the FA Cup semi-final at White Hart Lane in March 1950. If Saturday’s final were played at the same territory, Tottenham could save themselves a fortune in stadium deconstruction costs. Famously, Arsenal did not have to leave London to win the 1950 FA Cup- a feat they repeated in 2014.

Arsenal needed to negotiate a two goal deficit against Hull in the 1930 FA Cup semi-final and would need to do it again against Stoke in 1971. This curious trend was observed in Middlesex too, with Pensioners’ forward Roy Bentley scoring twice in the first 25 minutes to give Chelsea a commanding advantage. The Gunners secured a lifeline in freak circumstances deep into first half stoppage time.

Ex-Tottenham winger Freddie Cox’s corner was carried into the net by the blustery conditions. Arsenal equalised on 75 minutes. Ignoring captain Joe Mercer’s instructions to stay back, Les Compton trundled forward and headed brother Denis’ corner into the net with such vigour that he somersaulted over two Chelsea defenders in the process. The teams replayed at the same venue four days later, with Cox scoring the only goal to take Arsenal to Wembley.

Final. 4th May, 2002. Millennium Stadium
Arsenal 2 – 0 Chelsea

Arsenal; Seaman, Lauren, Adams, Campbell, Cole, Wiltord (Keown), Parlour, Vieira. Ljungberg, Bergkamp (Edu), Henry (Kanu).

The first final between the sides took place in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in May 2002. The match was immediately proceeded by a league fixture at Old Trafford, where a draw or a victory would be enough to snatch the league title from Manchester United. This final formed the prologue of one of the finest weeks in Arsenal’s history.

Chelsea were affected by injuries, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink played with his socks rolled around his ankles for the entire match, clearly unfit. Whilst an ear infection kept captain John Terry out of the starting XI. The Gunners had David Seaman to thank for an outstanding save from Gudjohnsen’s drive in an even first half.

On 68 minutes, Arsenal took control of the match when Ray Parlour carried the ball into space in Chelsea’s half and unleashed a curling shot into the top corner from 25 yards. In Sky Sport’s “Fanzone” commentary, Chelsea fan Tim Lovejoy memorably introduced Parlour’s shot with a dismissive, “Oh, it’s only Ray Parlour.”

Naturally, the clip “went viral.” Lovejoy hated this, because it meant everyone was talking about him. Man of the moment Freddie Ljungberg finished the tie, swatting substitute John Terry aside before delivering a dipping shot over Cudicini. Down below us behind the goal, substitute Lee Dixon demonstrated one final burst of pace in acclaim of the effort. Arsenal had won their 8th FA Cup title, drawing them level with Tottenham’s tally.

Quarter-Final replay. 25th March, 2003. Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 1 – 3 Arsenal
Terry Terry (og)

Arsenal; Taylor, Lauren, Campbell, Cygan, Toure, Parlour, Vieira, Edu, Pires (Wiltord), Jeffers (Bronckhorst), Wiltord (Henry).

The Gunners travelled to West London for a quarter-final cup replay that they could really have done without. A late Frank Lampard equaliser in the original tie at Highbury rendered a rematch necessary. Arsenal had a crunch Champions League tie against Valencia on the horizon and were fighting off a resurgent Manchester United at the top of the Premier League.

Arsene Wenger rested Seaman, Keown, Cole, Ljungberg, Gilberto, Bergkamp, Kanu and Henry in what almost amounted to an act of concession. But with his knee heavily strapped, captain Patrick Vieira was not spared. Thankfully. It was his 25th minute cross that caused John Terry to deflect the ball into his own net.

Nine minutes later, Vieira’s surging run took him deep into Chelsea territory and he teed up Sylvain Wiltord for a second goal. Arsenal looked to have the game under control, until Pascal Cygan was sent off for a professional foul on Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink on 78 minutes. Kolo Toure moved to centre half in the subsequent reorganisation for the first time in his Arsenal career.

The subsequent free-kick was nodded home by John Terry and with eleven minutes remaining and a man down, Arsenal were in trouble. But two minutes later, Lauren carried the ball forward, much in the way Liam Brady had 14 years earlier at Wembley. The Cameroonian was looking to give his team some respite and some breathing space.

But as he moved inside, a chasm of space opened up and Lauren’s left footed shot was fumbled into the net by Cudicini, sending the Arsenal fans in the Matthew Harding Stand into rapture. After the match, Chelsea fans showered the 6,000 travelling contingent with bottles and coins, but it was not nearly enough to wipe the grin from our faces. Arsenal went onto retain the trophy for the first time in their history- a trick they would repeat in 2015.

Follow me on Twitter @Stillberto– or like my page on Facebook 

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