Arsenal FC will be looking to make a title statement when they take on Chelsea FC at the Emirates on Sunday, and getting their first Premier League win over the Blues since 2011 might just be the perfect way to do that.
It took the arrival of José Mourinho for Chelsea FC to finally break their hoodoo against Arsenal FC, when the Blues won their first match against the Gunners in 10 years in August 2005. The Portuguese has gone on to enjoy more success against Arsène Wenger since and, till date, the Frenchman has yet to get the better of his arch nemesis in a league encounter.
Chelsea FC’s fortunes against their rivals from North London have changed since that 2-0 triumph in Mourinho’s second season in charge and Arsenal FC have had to be content with playing second fiddle to the Premier League’s nouveau riche. Without a win in eight straight games against the Blues, Wenger’s men now have the perfect opportunity to end that run and stamp their credentials for the 2015-2016 league title.
The London giants have had some truly memorable encounters over the years in the Premier League and Sunday’s game promises to be another riveting affair. Ahead of the much-anticipated game, The Hard Tackle takes a look back at five classic clashes between the two sides.
1. Arsenal FC 3 – 3 Chelsea FC (September 4, 1996)
1996 would prove to be a truly historic year for both clubs, with Chelsea FC appointing Ruud Gullit as manager and luring the likes of Frank Leboeuf, Roberto Di Matteo, Gianluca Vialli and Gianfranco Zola to the club, while the Gunners brought in Patrick Vieira and, in an inspired decision that led to a revolution at the club, his compatriot Arsène Wenger.
Interestingly, Arsenal FC would not confirm the appointment of the Frenchman until nearly a month after this classic encounter, but the high-octane drama of the game means it will stick out in the memory of both sets of supporters.
Unbeaten going into the game at Highbury, Chelsea FC made a brilliant start, going two goals up in the opening half an hour through new signings Leboeuf and Vialli. The Gunners fought back however, not only leveling proceedings with goals from Paul Merson and Martin Keown, but taking the lead through Ian Wright.
With the home supporters all but ready to celebrate a victory, it fell upon iconic Blues’ midfielder Dennis Wise to pour cold water on those plans. The Englishman latched on to a wonderful ball over the top of the Arsenal FC defence and rifled in a left-footed effort into the roof of the net with practically the last kick of the game to earn his side a point.
2. Chelsea FC 2 – 3 Arsenal FC (October 23, 1999)
The late 90s was a promising period for the Blues, who were on the up and registering some of their best finishes in top-division history. Chelsea FC brought in the likes of Mario Melchiot, George Weah, Didier Deschamps and Carlo Cudicini in 1999, while Arsenal FC replaced the departing Nicolas Anelka with a certain Thierry Henry, signing the Frenchman for a club record £11m from Juventus.
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However, it was another striker altogether who made the derby in October 1999 one of the most memorable in the history of the two clubs. It was once again the Blues who powered to a 2-0 lead at Stamford Bridge with goals from Tore Andre Flo and right-back Dan Petrescu, but if the home supporters thought they would be celebrating a Chelsea FC win, Nwanko Kanu had other ideas.
The Nigerian pulled one back in the 75th minute, before restoring parity just eight minutes later. As if that wasn’t a big enough blow for the Chelsea supporters, Kanu completed his hat-trick in the final moments of the game with an iconic goal, winning all three points for Wenger’s side.
3. Arsenal FC 1 – 4 Chelsea FC (May 10, 2009)
It was current Blues manager Guus Hiddink who led his charges to an emphatic win at the Emirates at the back end of the 2008-2009 season, just days after being eliminated by FC Barcelona in one of the more controversial Champions League knock-out ties in recent memory.
The win remains Chelsea FC’s biggest away triumph against Arsenal FC in league history, and the Blues’ faithful will be hoping their manager can inspire a similar performance from his side on Sunday. Petr Čech and Cesc Fàbregas have swapped sides since that fixture, while John Terry and John Obi Mikel are the only two players from the Blues’ starting XI who are still at the club.
Brazilian centre-back Alex gave the away side a first-half lead on the day, before a former Gunner in Nicolas Anelka doubled Chelsea’s advantage five minutes before half time. A Kolo Touré own goal effectively ended the game as a contest minutes after the second half commenced, and Nicklas Bendtner’s consolation goal on 70 minutes was not celebrated for long, as Frenchman Florent Malouda added yet another at the death to round off a fine day for those donning blue.
4. Chelsea FC 3 – 5 Arsenal FC (October 29, 2011)
In a spooky coincidence, it was almost the exact same date 12 years on from Kanu’s hat-trick that yet another three-goal haul from an Arsenal FC striker led Wenger’s side to victory at Stamford Bridge — Dutchman Robin van Persie the protagonist on this occasion.
Chelsea FC had appointed Portuguese manager André Villas-Boas in the summer as a replacment for Carlo Ancelotti, and his first Premier League encounter against the Gunners proved to be one to remember.
Frank Lampard’s opener was cancelled out by Robin van Persie, but the Blues’ legendary captain John Terry restored his side’s advantage just before half-time. However, in one of Čech’s worst ever games in blue, some questionable goalkeeping allowed Arsenal FC’s Brazilian left-back André Santos to equalise just after half time, before Theo Walcott put the away side ahead just five minutes later.
It fell upon new Chelsea FC signing Juan Mata to restore parity with an outstanding long-range effort, but the home supporters had to suffer more heart-break, as Van Persie latched on to a poor back pass from Malouda and took advantage of Terry’s slip to race through on goal and make it 4-3 in Arsenal FC’s favour. The Dutch striker added a fifth for good measure later on to earn a memorable three points for his team.
5. Chelsea FC 6 – 0 Arsenal FC (March 22, 2014)
Chelsea FC’s biggest ever win over their fierce rivals happened to coincide with Wenger’s 1000th game in charge of Arsenal FC. If the Frenchman had wished for a day he would not forget, he got just that — only for the worst possible reasons.
José Mourinho positively relishes playing the role of the party pooper and, before effectively ending Liverpool FC’s title hopes later in the season, the Portuguese played the villain for Wenger’s milestone game. The home side were at the Gunners’ throats from the very first minute, and Samuel Eto’o put them ahead deservedly in only the 5th minute.
Chelsea would go on to score twice more in the next 15 minutes, with the third being an Eden Hazard penalty that was awarded due to a handball on the goal-line from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Referee Andre Marriner accidentally sent off Keiran Gibbs instead, and Wenger’s nightmare continued thereafter.
Oscar made it four before half time, before adding another after the interval to pile further misery upon the travelling supporters. Egyptian Mohamed Salah put the icing on the cake for the home side with the sixth goal, completing Arsenal FC’s humiliation on the sunny afternoon at Stamford Bridge.
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