Some fixtures are looked forward to by neutrals as much as they are by the fans of the dueling clubs. Chelsea and Arsenal derbies have become exactly that in the Premier League era. Here’s a look back at 5 major fixtures between the two London rivals in the last decade.
Arsenal 3 – Chelsea 0
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Following an unpredictable 2015-16 Premier League season which saw the champions Chelsea slip into mid-table obscurity, a new dawn was about to unfold at Stamford Bridge. Antonio Conte was unveiled as The Blues’ new manager for the 2016-17 campaign. His task: get Chelsea back into the title race. Chelsea began the season in fine form winning their first 3 games, but then faltered with an away draw at Swansea and a home loss to Liverpool – their first big test of the season. For Arsenal the feeling was different. They themselves had also suffered defeat to Liverpool at home on the opening day of the season. However since that result, The Gunners were unbeaten and on a 3 game winning streak. Chelsea arrived at The Emirates and found themselves totally outclassed in the first 45 minutes. First half goals from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Özil saw Arsenal go into the break with a well deserved lead. What transpired in the 2nd period is the exact reason why this game will go down in Chelsea history. The team’s first half performance proved to be a catalyst for Conte to tinker with his formation. That second half in North London was the first time football fans would lay eyes on Chelsea’s now infamous 3-4-3 setup. The formation change from a 4-2-3-1 worked like a charm. Arsenal were unable to add to their tally in the 2nd half. Chelsea themselves were unable to get on the scoreboard, but they were rock solid in defense and their attack was more fluid than it had been in recent weeks. Despite ending this game in defeat, Chelsea went on a 13 game winning streak which included a run of 6 consecutive clean sheets. The Blues ultimately won the Premier League title with a record breaking 30 wins. In addition, since that fateful second half on September 24th 2016 no other formation has been used by Antonio Conte in the Premier League.
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Chelsea 2 – Arsenal 0
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In a season of despair for Chelsea, this result was one of the bright sparks. Chelsea, Arsenal derbies had become extremely enticing because of the rivalry between managers Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger. The two managers had never been fond of one another and this game certainly didn’t aid their relationship positively. This feisty encounter saw the awarding of 2 red cards -a trait that had become customary in this fixture and by the referee in charge (Mike Dean). Unfortunately for Arsenal, they were the recipients of both dismissals. Gunners defender Gabriel – who had already been booked- was shown a straight red just before the half, for kicking out at Chelsea target man Diego Costa. It was the culmination to a rivalry that had been brewing for the better part of 30 minutes. Costa during his time in the Premier League became notorious for his antagonistic behaviour. In the end, he got the better of Gabriel and the Brazilian defender was fairly sent off. There were question marks at to whether Costa himself should have been on the pitch however. This following incident in which the Brazilian born Spanish striker put his hands in the face of Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny: an action which went unpunished by the referee. Arsenal were forced to play the balance of the game at a numerical disadvantage. Kurt Zouma who was handed a start ahead of Chelsea skipper John Terry, repaid the boss’ faith by heading Chelsea in front with his first ever Premier League goal. Arsenal’s misery was further compounded when Santi Cazorla was giving his marching orders with a second yellow, for a foul on former Arsenal man Cesc Fabregas. Eden Hazard put the icing on the cake with an injury time goal. After the game Arsene Wenger could not hide his frustration at Chelsea’s physicality and wind-up tactics and the refereeing decisions. Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho was in an absolute bullish mood as he claimed in his post game interview that Diego Costa “played football the way it should be played”. In the end, no love gained and there certainly was none to lose in the first case.
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Chelsea 6 – Arsenal 0
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Another day of misery and misfortune it was for Arsenal when they traveled to The Bridge on March 22nd 2014. It was Lions v Lambs. Chelsea began with 2 goals in the opening 6 minutes: Samuel Eto’o and Andre Schürrle inflicting the damage. Refereeing decisions also took centre stage in this tie. On a quarter of an hour Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain handled the ball on the line to deny Chelsea a third. A penalty was subsequently awarded and referee Andre Marriner stepped up to award the red card to the culprit. In a strange turn of events, the man in charge showed the red card instead to Arsenal left back Kieran Gibbs, despite protests from the other Arsenal players and even with Oxlade-Chamberlain visibly admitting that he was indeed the guilty party. The questionable decision from Marriner caused an uproar in the social media football community. For weeks Marriner was the subject of clever memes and constant jests. On the pitch that day Chelsea ran out eventual winners by a comfortable 6-0 scoreline. Not exactly the way Wenger would’ve wanted to celebrate his 1000th game in charge of Arsenal. The silver lining? Andre Marriner’s red card was overturned by the FA and Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gibbs were both available for the next fixture.
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Chelsea 3 – Arsenal 5
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As a result of a lack of trophies, one major epidemic that was taking place at Arsenal was the departure of the club’ s captain at season’s end. This was one of those seasons. Robin van Persie departed for Manchester United, – much to the dismay and disgust of Arsenal supporters worldwide- but not before leaving the fans with this gem of a performance. Chelsea led 2-1 at the break. Second half goals from Andre Santos and Theo Walcott put the Gunners ahead before Juan Mata leveled for the Blues with just over 10 minutes left to play. Then it was the Robin van Persie show. 2 late goals in the 85th and the 90+2 minutes capped off his hat-trick and a scintillating performance from Arsenal. The result provided a well needed morale boost to a stuttering Gunners squad who had suffered 3 other defeats apart from the drubbing in Manchester. From Chelsea’s perspective it was a Premier League season to forget. The loss to Arsenal was their second loss on the trot and their first home defeat of the season. Their newly appointed manager Andre Villas-Boas didn’t last the season. He was sacked in March and former Blue Roberto DiMatteo was named the caretaker manager. Arsenal ended the season in 3rd whilst Chelsea could only muster a 6th place finish. Oh yea, Chelsea did go on to be crowned champions of Europe for the first time in their history and were the first London club to do so. Last laugh?
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Arsenal 1 – Chelsea 1
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This kind of result has not been a common occurrence in this fixture. However on May 6th 2007, a draw ended Chelsea’s chances of a third successive Premier League title and handed Manchester United their first title since 2003. Khalid Boularouz was given his marching orders just before halftime for a foul on Julio Baptista in the area. Gilberto Silva converted the resulting penalty kick and Arsenal went into the break up a goal and a man. Even with a man less, Mourinho’s Chelsea gave a spirited second half display and ultimately earned a share of the spoils when Michael Essien headed home an equalizer with 20 minutes remaining. For Chelsea, that season marked the end of the Mourinho era (or first stint since unbeknownst to the fans at that point, he’d return to manage for a second time). For Arsenal it marked the end of the Thierry Henry era (also the first stint as he too would return for a second playing spell at his former club). Arsenal’s all-time leading goal scorer bowed out of the Premier League to join Spanish giants Barcelona and the rest as they say, is history.