• First XI

Capital punishment

Robin Hackett
October 27, 2011
Ashley Cole celebrates with Nicolas Anelka © Getty Images
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As Chelsea prepare to host Arsenal on Saturday, we look back through the history books at some of the most significant encounters between the London rivals.

Chelsea 2-1 Woolwich Arsenal (First Division, 1907-08)
There was great sense of anticipation in November 1907 as London prepared for its first ever derby between two top-flight clubs. Chelsea, newly promoted, were seeking to move off the foot of the table as they hosted mid-table Woolwich Arsenal.

"Time was when Millwall and Tottenham would have drawn all London," the Daily Mirror wrote. "Other times, other manners, and now the big crowd will turn out to see Chelsea play the Arsenal, and at least 50,000 spectators will be present if the weather is fine."

The exact attendance figure was not clear - the Guardian report estimated it at "nearly 60,000", the Express put it at "over 60,000" and the Mirror suggested 70,000 - but, regardless, the Mirror was right to report that the "record for an English League match was easily broken at Stamford Bridge".

Chelsea were to come out on top in a hard-fought battle - "The spectacle was in every way extraordinary," the Express said - and ultimately finished the season in 13th, one place above their London rivals.

Chelsea 1- 5 Arsenal (First Division, 1930-31)
Chelsea spent six years in the Second Division in the 1920s and, ahead of the resumption of their top-flight rivalry in November 1930, the Daily Mirror's sports editor urged fans to arrive at Stamford Bridge early if they wanted to watch the battle of the "all-star teams".

Arsenal, led by Herbert Chapman, were three points clear at the top of the table while the Guardian's preview pointed to the fact that "there is only one better defence in the division than Chelsea's". The game attracted a bumper crowd of 74,600 - so packed that Jimmy Thomas, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, was forced to take a seat in the gangway after finding all the seats in the directors' stand taken - and thousands gathered outside to listen out for developments.

The drama lived up to all expectations. Chelsea were leading 1-0 at the break after Arsenal's David Jack handled in the area and Tommy Law converted the penalty. Just 30 seconds after the break, though, Jack scored the equaliser and he went on to complete his hat-trick in what was to become Arsenal's biggest ever win over the Blues. "I hope that Arsenal and Chelsea will not meet again for a week or two," the Express reporter said. "I should like an interval to get my strength up after the strenuous affair at the Bridge. It was a real thriller."

Chelsea 1-1 Arsenal (First Division, 1935-36)
The encounter at Stamford Bridge in October 1935 was billed as "London's biggest league clash", and it was to attract 82,905 paying spectators - still the third-highest attendance for an English league match. "The gates had to be closed at three o'clock, and shortly after that thousands swarmed over the barriers and seated themselves on the dog-racing track," the Express said.

Chelsea, then tenth in the table, were considered the underdogs against fourth-placed Arsenal, having lost the same fixture 5-2 a year earlier, but they were, as the Mirror accurately predicted, "hardly the ne'er-do-wells of twelve months ago" and, in the event, they were only denied the win by a late Jack Crayston goal.

Arsenal 1-0 Chelsea and Chelsea 1-1 Arsenal (First Division, 1954-55)
Ted Drake, an Arsenal legend as a player, had become manager of Chelsea in 1952 and sought to bring with him some of the Gunners' steel. Drake, looking to end the perception that the Blues were not to be taken seriously, decided the 'Pensioners' nickname must be discarded and he brought sweeping changes to training and recruitment.

Chelsea were fourth in the table when they made the trip north to face Arsenal on Christmas Day, but they were beaten 1-0. The Guardian match report, titled 'Romantics v. Realists', expressed doubt as to whether the Blues had significantly progressed. "Arsenal by tradition are forthright, pragmatic, solid, and successful, with no nonsense about them and a conviction that the run of the ball helps those who help themselves," David Sylvester wrote. "Chelsea by tradition are brilliant, unpredictable, temperamental and disinclined to do anything so materialistic as acquire cups and medals. It is true that they have lately been showing signs of betraying their traditions, for they have proved themselves in hard statistics, both this season and the last ... but even now they retain the dependence on the flash of inspiration which is the hallmark of the romantic."

John Jensen beats Craig Burley in the air © PA Photos
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That defeat was a deeply disappointing result for Chelsea, but even so there was great demand for the return match at Stamford Bridge two days later. There were 66,922 in attendance, and the stadium gates had to be shut 15 minutes before the kick-off, locking out thousands - FA secretary Sir Stanley Rous included.

The match itself saw Chelsea miss their fifth successive penalty, but they secured a 1-1 draw and found a measure of consistency at the turn of the year before recording their first ever league title.

Arsenal 5-4 Chelsea (First Division, 1957-58)
A nine-goal thriller at Highbury in March 1958 was written off as a 'comedy of errors' by the Guardian as 14th-placed Arsenal held out for a 5-4 victory against tenth-placed Chelsea. "Here was a crowd pleaser in the best boxing-booth tradition," Bob Pennington wrote in the Daily Express. "A rip-snorter that was all attack and no defence."

Arsenal had gone ahead on ten minutes through Jimmy Bloomfield before Jimmy Greaves equalised two minutes later; Micky Block put Chelsea 2-1 up on 16 minutes before David Herd levelled on 23 minutes; Greaves scored again shortly after the break to restore Chelsea's lead before Herd made it 3-3 five minutes later; Danny Clapton and Herd then put Arsenal 5-3 ahead before Ron Tindall pulled one back with ten minutes remaining. Chelsea could have made it 5-5 at the death when Tindall's head met the ball. "BUT THUD!" the Mirror reported. "The ball hit the post and the thrilled crowd roared for the last time."

Arsenal 5-2 Chelsea (First Division, 1978-79)
On April 16, 1979, Arsenal condemned their rivals to relegation. Chelsea were in dismal form, having taken two points from their last 13 games, and met their maker in pitiful fashion at Highbury.

Arsenal were two up by half-time, David O'Leary and Frank Stapleton with the goals, but Clive Walker reduced the deficit in the 68th minute. In a five-minute spell, though, the Blues collapsed: Alan Sunderland made it 3-1 in the 80th minute, David Price added another two minutes later and Stapleton completed his brace in the 85th minute. Tommy Langley scored for Chelsea three minutes from time but it was little consolation.

"Chelsea's disintegration as a First Division side reached frightening proportions on the day they were finally condemned to relegation," Harry Miller wrote in the Mirror, and manager Danny Blanchflower was in no mood to disagree. "The reality is that we are not good enough to win, even when we are playing well," Blanchflower said. "I have a good club and a bad team."

Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal (First Division, 1990-91)
In 2003-04, Arsenal became the first side since Preston in 1888-89 to go an entire league campaign unbeaten, but George Graham's men would have achieved that accolade 23 years earlier but for a trip to Stamford Bridge in February 1991. Even so, this was not a side comparable to Arsene Wenger's vintage crop, with Graham persisting with a defensive approach that, the Guardian wrote, "echoes the club's priorities down the years and perpetuates the unpopularity that irks him so".

Stamford Bridge was always a likely setting for a stumble. Arsenal had not won there for 17 seasons and, when Chelsea ran up a 2-0 lead after quick-fire goals from Graham Stuart and Kerry Dixon, Arsenal could not muster a response until Alan Smith's late consolation. "I think there was a psychological barrier for us," Anders Limpar said afterwards. "The other players had been telling me how hard we find it to win here, but just because our run has been broken doesn't mean the world has ended." Arsenal did not lose another league game and finished the season seven points clear of second-placed Liverpool.

Chelsea 2-3 Arsenal (Premier League, 1999-2000)
"You don't want to make war before the war," Wenger had said, "but it will be a game with a lot of commitment. I don't believe there's a lot of animosity but the fans make the game and push you into a state of mind which makes you have a go."

In a match that was for both teams sandwiched between two important Champions League matches, there were to be concessions to Europe - Chelsea rested Gianfranco Zola while Arsenal left out Dennis Bergkamp - but this was a fixture with needle: it had brought 40 yellow cards and three reds in the previous seven meetings.

On the day, the yellow card came out for the first time after just two minutes when Lee Dixon fouled Graeme Le Saux, but it was to be a match remembered for its drama. Tore Andre Flo headed Chelsea into the lead on 38 minutes and Dan Petrescu fired in the second seven minutes after the break; in the final quarter of an hour, Nwankwo Kanu took over. He pulled a goal back on 75 minutes and equalised eight minutes later. Deep into injury time, the comeback was complete.

"Kanu weaved past Ed De Goey as if he was a static pile of jumpers and then bent the ball with a touch as brutal as it was beautiful," Amy Lawrence wrote in the Guardian, while Paul McCarthy added in the Express: "It was the kind of goal which creates that momentary hush of disbelief before an eruption of adulation."

Even Kanu's manager was confounded. "If he hadn't scored it could have upset you because he really should have passed," Wenger said. "However, great players can prove you wrong. It is one of the best goals I've seen."

Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea (FA Cup final, 2002)
The first all-London FA Cup final for 20 years took place at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Arsenal and Chelsea had never before met in a final, and the Blues went into the game as underdogs. Arsenal had not lost a domestic match in almost six months and, sitting top of the league, knew they were primed to clinch the Double.

Sir Alex Ferguson, whose Manchester United were to face Arsenal four days after the final, had attempted to rock the applecart by backing Chelsea to take the cup and claiming his team were superior to the Gunners. "Everyone thinks he has the prettiest wife at home," Wenger replied. "Only at the end of the season, when you see who is first in the championship, can you say who is the best in England - and I believe it will be us."

The attempt to disrupt Arsenal's march to glory failed. In captain Tony Adams' final match as a professional, Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-0 courtesy of stunning goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg in the 70th and 80th minutes. Four days later, Arsenal won 1-0 at Old Trafford to seal the Double.

Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea (Champions League, 2003-04)
When Roman Abramovich arrived at Chelsea in the summer of 2003, he funded a spending spree that was to alter the hierarchy of English football. The new riches had allowed Claudio Ranieri to make encouraging progress by March 2004 but, when the Blues prepared for their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Arsenal, they were trailing their London rivals by nine points in the league and had lost each of their three encounters with the Gunners that season. Ranieri was well aware that his job was on the line.

Arsene Wenger advises Edu © PA Photos
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In the first leg, at Stamford Bridge, they had drawn 1-1 and seen Marcel Desailly sent off. The avoidance of defeat was a positive, but it did little to boost their manager's expectations. "There is a big storm all around me," Ranieri said. "Thunder, lightning, driving rain. But I am huddled inside my hut with my players and I know that they are safe because we are protected from the storm. As for me, I know that whatever happens I will be okay because it is just a storm and my conscience is clear." He added: "If Arsenal beat us, it is normal. What change? But if we beat them, anything could happen."

In the event, Arsenal took the lead in the second leg in first-half injury time through Jose Antonio Reyes, but Frank Lampard equalised soon after the break. With the game headed towards extra time, Eidur Gudjohnsen set up Wayne Bridge - one of the less glamorous new arrivals - to score the decisive goal in the 87th minute. "I was like Pavarotti trying to stimulate my players," Ranieri explained with self-proclaimed delirium. "My team is like an orchestra. To play the symphony correctly I need some of the boom boom boom, but I also need some tweet, and sometimes the boom and the tweet go well together."

Chelsea went on to take two points from their next four league games and crashed out of the Champions League to Monaco at the semi-final stage after some ill-advised tinkering. Ranieri, as he had humorously predicted during the season, was sacked in May.

Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal (Carling Cup final, 2007)
TheDaily Express called it the 'Snarling Cup' while the Daily Star went with 'Carnage Cup', but the moral indignation that greeted the teams' meeting at the Millennium Stadium was not limited to the tabloid press.

The animosity between Chelsea and Arsenal had grown following the arrival of arch provocateur Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge and Ashley Cole's bitter switch across London. What transpired was one of the most undignified endings to a showpiece event the game had seen. Wenger had kept faith with the young side that had reached the final, and Theo Walcott opened the scoring in the 12th minute. However, Didier Drogba, ever the thorn in Arsenal's side, hit back with goals in the 20th and 84th minutes to turn the game in Chelsea's favour.

With John Terry having been knocked unconscious - inadvertently - during the second half, injury time extended to seven minutes, and it was during that period that the fuse was lit. In the 94th minute, John Obi Mikel tugged on Kolo Toure's shirt, to which the latter took exception. Cesc Fabregas and Frank Lampard joined the fray and were soon joined by a majority of players from both teams, with Emmanuel Eboue striking Wayne Bridge. Toure and Mikel were sent off for violent conduct, along with Emmanuel Adebayor, who - it was claimed - had been mistaken for Eboue. The Togo striker had to be escorted from the field in a fit of rage.

When Arsenal appealed Adebayor's dismissal, the FA rejected the claim, insisting in an official statement - with bold and underline - that it was "not a case of mistaken identity". Adebayor was also charged with "reacting aggressively and failing to leave the field of play immediately after being sent off", while Eboue was retrospectively punished for striking Bridge. "It is a coincidence that 20 men have a brawl and only the Arsenal men are guilty," Wenger was to say. "It is unbelievable. Maybe that is their way to do justice."

A triumphant Jose Mourinho was less concerned with the impending misconduct charge facing his own club. "Football is about winning," he said after the match.

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