Beating the Blues

Whatever happens at Wembley Stadium, the Gunners have been building momentum towards what should be an epic FA Cup final showdown with Chelsea.

So to whet your appetite, here are 10 famous FA Cup encounters with the Blues over more than 100 years....

2002 FA Cup final – Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea

Double-chasing Arsenal went into the game as favourites, but were made to work hard by a well organised Blues side boasting former Gunner Emmanuel Petit in midfield.

After Dennis Bergkamp and Lauren went close with headers for Arsenal, and Eidur Gudjohnsen’s curling effort was saved by David Seaman at Old Trafford, Arsene Wenger’s men finally broke through after 70 minutes, with midfielder Ray Parlour curling home a memorable effort from range.

Ten minutes later, in-form Freddie Ljungberg arced his shot masterfully past the despairing dive of Carlo Cudicini. Two-nil winners, Arsenal completed the double four days later.

Freddie Ljungberg  scores in the 2002 FA Cup Final

Freddie Ljungberg scores in the 2002 FA Cup Final


1930 third round - Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea

Neither club had yet won a major trophy by 1930, and although Arsenal had been spending big money their league form was poor as talisman Alex James struggled for form and fitness.

With under-pressure manager Herbert Chapman in need of a boost, he knew the prospect of an FA Cup run could relieve some of the pressure that was building around the club.

Two well-taken goals from Jack Lambert and Cliff Bastin were enough to win the match, steady Arsenal’s nerves and set them on the journey to Wembley, where they’d finally taste glory in May – before going on to dominate English football in the 1930s.


2004 Fifth Round - Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea

Adrian Mutu’s first-half goal gave Claudio Ranieri’s side the advantage at the break, but after half time new Arsenal signing Jose Antonio Reyes burst into life with two quickfire goals.

Signed a few weeks earlier from Sevilla during the January transfer window, the winger drove a 25-yard piledriver past Carlo Cudicini (“The young Spaniard has arrived at Highbury with a breathtaking goal!” hollered BBC commentator John Motson), and with Highbury still in a state of fervour Reyes collected Patrick Vieira’s pass  and slipped the ball past Chelsea’s Italian ‘keeper to seal a thrilling 2-1 win.

Jose Antonio Reyes celebrates against Chelsea

Jose Antonio Reyes celebrates against Chelsea


1973 quarter-final replay - Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea

A pulsating floodlit Highbury battle in front of more than 62,000 supporters saw Bertie Mee’s 1970/71 double winners edge out the 1970 FA Cup winners.

Peter Houseman had given Chelsea a first-half lead, but Alan Ball equalised from the spot after referee Norman Burtsenshaw had initially (wrongly) claimed that the foul on George Armstrong occurred outside the box.

A towering header from Ray Kennedy after the break took Arsenal to their third semi-final in as many years, although this one ended in defeat to eventual surprise winners Sunderland.1950 semi-final replay - Arsenal 1-0 Chelsea

After fighting back from 2-0 down to force a replay at White Hart Lane four days earlier, the Gunners were highly confident of victory at the second attempt. Perhaps most confident of all, however, was Freddie Cox’s wife, whose husband had scored in the first game.

On the morning of the replay, she informed him she’d had a premonition that he would score the winner in the replay, which he duly did, as Arsenal forced their way into the final to face Liverpool – whom they would beat 2-0 courtesy of a brace from Reg Lewis.

It was entirely apt that Cox should perform heroics at the home of Arsenal’s rivals – he’d been signed from Tottenham earlier that season.


2003 quarter-final replay - Chelsea 1-3 Arsenal

An own goal from Blues skipper John Terry and an incisive strike from Sylvain Wiltord in the first half meant Arsenal appeared to be coasting at Stamford Bridge, following a 2-2 draw at Highbury. That was before central defender Pascal Cygan was sent off and Terry pulled a late goal back for the Blues.

Yet with the Gunners under huge pressure on 80 minutes, a rapid break released Lauren to cut across the edge of the Chelsea penalty box and roll his shot home past Carlo Cudicini. Showing steel as well as silk, Arsenal were in the semi-finals.


1952 semi-final replay - Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea

The Gunners had been somewhat fortuitous to survive the semi-final at White Hart Lane with a 1-1 draw, but were in complete control throughout the replay at the same venue.

The hero of the 1950 clash, Freddie Cox, was once again in splendid form, drilling home the first goal, heading in the second, and delivering the free kick from which Doug Lishman scored the third.

“He’s become a real hoodoo for Chelsea and they can’t wait to see the back of him,” said Arsenal goalkeeper George Swindin.


2001 fifth round - Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea

A nervy Arsenal took the lead courtesy of Thierry Henry’s penalty, but it wasn’t to last as a thunderous Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink effort in front of the massed ranks of Blues’ followers in the Clock End drew Chelsea level.

The introduction of Sylvain Wiltord after 69 minutes swung the game in Arsenal’s favour, with the Frenchman grabbing a well taken brace in the final ten minutes to set up a north London derby semi-final with Tottenham at Old Trafford. Arsenal would win that 2-1  before losing a controversial final to Liverpool.


2009 semi-final - Arsenal 1-2 chelsea

Theo Walcott’s splendidly taken early goal appeared to set Arsenal on their way, but a superbly organised Chelsea team fought back quickly and equalised through Florent Malouda.

As Arsenal pushed for a late winner, they became more ragged in possession, and a long pass found Didier Drogba – so often Arsenal’s tormenter-in-chief – who sidestepped Gunners’ goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski and slotted the ball home to win the match for interim manager Guus Hiddink. The Dutchman’s team then went on to win the final against Everton.


1915 second round - Chelsea 1-0 Arsenal

The first FA Cup clash between the two clubs didn’t end well for an Arsenal team containing future trainer Joe Shaw, with the Blues edging through an occasionally ill-tempered contest courtesy of Harold Halse’s winning goal.

The 40,000-plus Stamford Bridge crowd was notable for the large number of on-leave soldiers, and Chelsea fought their way through to what became known as the “khaki final” at Old Trafford – the last to be played before football was suspended due to World War One.

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