Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta and Bukayo Saka of Arsenal battle for the ball in an earlier Premier League match. Picture: Will Olivier/EPA
Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta and Bukayo Saka of Arsenal battle for the ball in an earlier Premier League match. Picture: Will Olivier/EPA

How Arsenal, Chelsea have dominated the FA Cup in the 21st Century

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Jul 31, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Arsenal and Chelsea - the Gunners and the Blues - are the two most successful clubs in the FA Cup since the turn of the century.

Together, from 2000 onwards, they have participated in a combined 13 finals The Gunners have lost only one final - to Liverpool in 2001, while Chelsea have lost two finals … to Arsenal.

In all, the clubs have won six trophies apiece since Chelsea beat Aston Villa in 2000.

Here, Gunner for life, Stuart Hess and Blues brother, Morgan Bolton, take a look at the respective finals won by the two clubs during the first two decades of the 21st Century.

ARSENAL

FA cup final record since 2000

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2002: Arsenal 2:0 Chelsea

A rocket from Ray Parlour and a gorgeous strike from Freddie Ljungberg after he’d left John Terry flat on his face - what’s not to love? Oh and this win also meant the Gunners completed the league and cup double that season, the second time they’d done so under manager Arsene Wenger. Chelsea had the better of the chances in the first half, but Parlour’s goal on 70 minutes changed the complexion of the match. Then Ljungberg, in the midst of a magnificent run of form, slalomed between a couple of Chelsea defenders, shook off Terry's desperate attempt to foul him - leaving Terry flat on his face (did we already mention that?) - and curled a beautiful goal past the Chelsea ‘keeper.

2003: Arsenal 1:0 Southampton

Not even the presence of Terry Paine could save the ‘Saints’ on that Saturday in Cardiff. It was the third year in a row the FA Cup Final was hosted at the Millennium Stadium (as it was known then) while Wembley was being rebuilt. This was a pretty dreary game of football, dominated by Arsenal, whose sole goal came from the stylish Frenchman, Robert Pires just before halftime, following a sweeping move involving Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Freddie Ljungberg. Victory here assuaged some of the pain that followed the loss of the league that season to Manchester United.

2005: Arsenal 0:0 Manchester United 0 (Arsenal won 5-4 on penalties)

The rivalry which dominated English football for the best part of a decade ended here. The sale of United’s Roy Keane and Arsenal’s Patrick Vieira, concluded one of the great two way battles modern English football has seen. The injection of Russian money at Chelsea had helped them win the league, meaning this was a crucial crown for the two clubs. The match itself was dominated by United, who failed to take their chances. Arsenal hung on grimly until the shootout. Jens Lehmann, saved Paul Scholes' attempt and then Arsenal’s captain, Vieira, with what would be his last kick for the Gunners, put the last penalty past the United keeper Roy Carroll. Arsenal wouldn’t win another trophy for nearly a decade.

2014: Arsenal 3:2 Hull City

In typical Arsenal fashion, they gave their supporters heart attacks on the way to an 11th FA Cup crown. First in the semifinals they came from behind against Wigan to force extra time, eventually winning on penalties. In the final, they were 2-0 down inside the first 10 minutes. Santi Carzola scored a wonderful free-kick just before half-time. Laurent Koscielny, operating on all manner of painkillers, then threw his body at the ball bundling it over the line to tie the scores at 2-2. To extra time, where Aaron Ramsey finished off a delightful move with a first time strike with the outside of his right foot, to put Arsenal in front. There was another scare late on (there had to be) but Arsenal hung on, winning a first trophy in nine years.

2015: Arsenal 4:0 Aston Villa

An easy, wonderful afternoon of football. No drama. Just a bunch of pleasant goals to cherish. Theo Walcott dancing in front of the Arsenal fans after scoring the opener just before halftime. After the interval the highlight of the game, Alexis Sanchez (whatever happened to him?) checking onto his right foot and thumping a half-volley from 40 metres to double the Arsenal lead. The BFG, Per Mertesacker, then scored off his neck and shoulder from a corner and broke into a cheesy celebration before Olivier Giroud, finished off a slick move right on the final whistle. If only all cup finals could be this relaxing.

2017: Arsenal 2:1 Chelsea

As will be the case on Saturday, Arsenal went into this match as massive underdogs. They would hold the ascendancy however in the opening exchanges and got a somewhat fortuitous opener thanks to Sanchez. Claims of off side and a handball were ignored by the referee and Arsenal led. Victor Moses was red-carded after diving in the box trying ton earn his side a penalty, but despite the numerical advantage Arsenal would concede just nine minutes later. Nevermind, from ensuing kick off, the ball was swept to the left where Olivier Giroud dug out a well weighted cross and Aaron Ramsey (him again!) dived in to score the winner. It was Arsenal’s 13 triumph in the FA Cup.

Stuart’s prediction for Saturday: Can Arsenal sign Ramsey on a one day contract? I have a bad feeling. Not because I think Chelsea is that much better or that Arsenal’s defence is so … err, very bad. Rather it’s the law of averages. The last time Arsenal lost a FA Cup final was to Liverpool in 2001. The Gunners have appeared in six finals since and won them all. The law of averages dictates that can’t continue … I hope the law of averages is wrong.

Chelsea to win 2-0 ( I would love to be wrong).

CHELSEA

FA Cup final record since 2000

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2000: Chelsea 1:0 Aston Villa

A match best remembered for its historical significance, instead of the quality of the endeavour as it was the last game to be played at Old Wembley. The first FA Cup final of the 21st Century was a rather dour affair, as both sides tentatively went about their business during the first half.

It was perhaps fitting then that it would be a legendary player - albeit an icon of the Blues - that would have the final say at one of the most hollowed of sporting grounds before it was torn down and rebuilt. In stepped that man, Roberto di Matteo, to capitalise on the fumble of Villa’s keeper David James and score the only goal of the match in the 73th minute. In doing so, Di Matteo secured the FA Cup for his club for the third time, and although this would prove to be the swansong of the Italian's playing career, he would return to the Blues later as a manager - an emotional sojourn that we will get to a little further on ...

2007: Chelsea 1:0 Manchester United

And as Chelsea were there to bid farewell to Old Wembley, so too were they there to greet new Wembley in the first FA Cup final at that stadium in 2007.

This was the age of Chelsea’s golden generation, freshly bought by oligarch Roman Abramovich, helmed by the ‘Special One’ Jose Mourinho at the height of his powers, and fielding players such as Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Blues legend Didier Drogba - to name but a few. Even so, Chelsea were not favourites heading into the final, not when they were playing against the recently crowned Premier League champions, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United.

The match itself was often uninspired, with the best chances only coming during extra-time after the encounter ground out to a 0-0 draw during the 90. The Red Devils’ Ryan Giggs came desperately close to snatching victory in the 14th minute of extra-time, diving with ball and all into an outstretched Cech on the Blues’ goalline, only to be denied by inches. It took a moment of magic by Lampard and Drogba - a name that will repeat a handful of times more as we complete this list - with a brilliant one-two movement in the 18-yard area. It saw the Ivorian prod the ball past Edwin van der Sar in the 26th minute AET - finally eeking out a hard-fought, albeit tedious victory for the Blues.

To date, the triumph remains Mourinho’s only FA Cup honour.

2009: Chelsea 2:1 Everton

In what was the first FA Cup final between the two clubs, the Toffees began the encounter with an incredible movement. From the kick off, and only 25 seconds into the match, Frenchman Louis Saha received a gift of a half-volley - the result of poor defending by Chelsea from a Steven Pienaar cross - smashing the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the Blues’ net to record the fastest FA Cup final goal ever.

But this was a Chelsea side forged by victory, and despite the sudden fright of the start, they kept plugging away at the Evertonian defence. In the 21st minute, it was Drogba who rose above the Toffees’ in the box, perfectly placing a powerful header into their net to draw the scoreline. Lampard then unleashed a trademark strike in the 72nd minute with his left foot, from way outside the box, to power Chelsea to their fifth cup title.

2010: Chelsea 1:0 Portsmouth

The FA Cup victory was the cherry on top for Chelsea that season as they had also been crowned English Premier League champions. It was the club’s first League-Cup double, as engineered by coach, Italian Carlo Ancelotti.

Pompey, although already relegated from the elite league in April, gave a good account of themselves, pushing the Blues to compete in an entertaining match. In spite of the Wembley pitch cutting up badly, both clubs created a number of chances. Portsmouth came desperately close to scoring twice, only to be denied by the brilliance of Cech, which included saving a Kevin-Prince Boatang penalty. Meanwhile, Chelsea were shooting left-right and centre at the other goalline, but were repeatedly rebuffed, not by Pompey’s defence, but the woodwork. This included an embarrassing miss from Salamon Kalou, who could only hit the crossbar with the goalmouth wide open.

Chelsea were convinced they scored in the 38th minute when Drogba laced a freekick into Pompey’s 12th man - jip, the crossbar - with the ball seemingly crossing the goal line only for their celebration to be waived away by referee Chris Foy. It took another free kick effort by - yes, you guessed it - Drogba in the 58th minute to finally put a goal on the scoresheet. Lampard then fluffed a penalty 30 minutes later but by then Portsmouth had been worn down and capitulated.

The actual final score 1-0, but if every chance that had touched the woodwork had gone in, more like 7-0.

2012: Chelsea 2:1 Liverpool

If we are honest, the 2012 final was a dress rehearsal for the Blues as they prepared for the Uefa Champions League final against Bayern Munich a fortnight later on May 19. And although it got a bit shaky for the Blues in the last 10 minutes of the game - especially after Andy Carroll’s equaliser was denied, it would prove a momentous occasion for Drogba, who scored again in his fourth consecutive FA Cup final, the often much maligned Ashley Cole, and the then head coach Di Matteo.

A decade earlier, Cole had won three FA Cup titles with Arsenal before moving over to their London rivals, much to the chagrin of Gunners’ fans. While at the Blues, Cole would go on to win four more cup titles and he currently holds the record as the most decorated FA Cup player with seven titles.

With Ramires opening up the Blues’ account in the 11th minute due to the dreadful defending of the Reds, and with the aforementioned Drogba goal securing victory in the 52nd minute, Di Matteo became one of only 17 individuals to win the FA Cup as a player and manager, and only one of seven to do so at the same club. Interestingly, should either Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta or Chelsea’s Frank Lamard win on Saturday, they too will join this illustrious group.

2018: Chelsea 1:0 Manchester United

If Antonio Conte was the mastermind of Chelsea from 2016 to 2018, then there can be no doubt that Eden Hazard was the Blues’ lynchpin. It is no secret that Chelsea supporters miss Hazard something fierce - his ball control, his dazzling runs and his bewitching of opposition’s defences endeared him quickly at the Bridge.

It was Hazard that engineered Chelsea’s victory with one of those trademark runs, forcing United’s Phil Jones to clumsily lunge at the No 10 in the penalty area. Hazard, as cool as always, stepped up to the spot and slotted in the penalty as easy as you like in the 22nd minute. Thereafter, the Red Devils tried to construct a goal scoring opportunity but most of their attacks whimpered into nothingness. Only Alexis Sanches came close, poking the ball into the back of the net, only to be deemed offside.

If there was one lesson to be learnt from the match, then it was to remind everyone what a talent Hazard is, and that he should return immediately to the Chelsea fold - all sins forgiven, and his Real Madrid excursion forgotten ...

Morgan’s prediction for Saturday: Chelsea do not score goals in the FA Cup final - their “biggest” victory this century a 2-1 win over the Reds and the Toffees, so expect another tight encounter. It will depend on which Blues defence pitches up though - they have been notoriously porous at the back during the league, conceding 54 goals. Chelsea have also not beaten the Gunners in the two FA Cup finals played since 2000. And yet, it has to be the Blues, right? Right.

1-0 to Chelsea.

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