Chelsea vs Arsenal: 7 Classic Clashes Between London's Millennial Rivals

Chelsea vs Arsenal is part of 90min's 50 Biggest Derbies in the World Series.

The two most successful teams in the capital have only really been vying for England’s top prizes since the turn of the century. 

But in that time, there has been no shortage of scintillating football, snarky comments or celery - particularly when José Mourinho and Arsene Wenger were pitting their wits in the dugout.

So as 90min's 50 greatest derbies series rolls on, it's time to look at seven classic clashes between these giants of the modern English game.

2003/04 - Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea

Chelsea's Wayne Bridge (R) runs past Ars

This match forms the foundation of the main argument against Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ who famously went the entire league campaign undefeated. But the fact that an English side ended their run in European competition, in some corners, takes the gloss of their achievement, much to the satisfaction of those in blue. 

Going into the game, ​Arsenal and Chelsea had already played each other four times that season. In both league games and the FA Cup fifth-round Arsenal had prevailed 2-1 but despite dominating the first leg of the European tie, Chelsea had salvaged a draw. 

José Antonio Reyes put Arsenal ahead in first half stoppage time but Frank Lampard equalised six minutes after the restart. Then, with three minutes to play before extra time, Wayne Bridge of all people popped up with a coolly converted winner to take Claudio Ranieri’s side to the semi-finals.

2004/05 - Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea

Arsenal v Chelsea Premiership Football 2004

The first meeting between the two protagonists of this modern rivalry came in mid-December as Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal earned a draw with José Mourinho’s title-chasing ​Chelsea

Thierry Henry’s two goals, one of which a quickly-taken free-kick, were the last Chelsea conceded as they went on a run of ten consecutive clean sheets in the league. They would concede an incredible 15 goals all season on their way to Mourinho’s first Premier League, two of which came after the title had been secured

2006/07 - Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal

Cesc Fabregas

What should have been remembered as a spectacle of entertaining, technical football between a young Arsenal side and a canny Chelsea outfit instead goes by the moniker of the ‘Snarling Cup final’. 

Theo Walcott and Didier Drogba both scored inside 20 minutes as the sides were level going into the final stages of the match. 

Abou Diaby, while trying to clear the ball at the start of the second half, accidentally connected with John Terry’s head, leaving Chelsea’s captain unconscious on the turf. This incident seemed to fire up his teammates who finished the game strongly after Arsenal had enjoyed the better of the match.. 

Drogba headed the winner past Manuel Almunia with six minutes to go but what the match is remembered for came deep into stoppage time. 

A brawl broke out in the centre-circle which saw both managers come on the field to try and calm tensions which had been bubbling throughout the game. Arsenal players had been pelted with celery at corner kicks throughout and the Terry injury only exacerbated emotions already heightened by the importance of the occasion. 

In the end, three players were sent off and two booked in the 96th-minute as Chelsea hung on to claim Mourinho’s fourth trophy in two and a half seasons in England. 

2011/12 - Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal

Arsenal's Dutch striker Robin van Persie

André Villas-Boas had turned 34 two weeks earlier but the visit from Arsenal would prove an unwanted birthday gift. The suave, intelligent, multi-lingual Villas-Boas had been incredibly successful in his single season with Porto - winning the league title unbeaten, the Portuguese Cup and the Europa League. 

In his single campaign with Chelsea, AVB had tried to replicate his aggressive defensive line which formed a part of his ‘high block’, yet, due to a lack of cohesion in Chelsea’s approach, they were torn apart on that October afternoon. 

Robin van Persie claimed a hat-trick while the speed of Arsenal’s rapid wingers Theo Walcott and Gervinho mercilessly exploited the space in behind Chelsea’s back line. With the scores level at 3-3, Van Persie latched onto a loose pass, easily breezing past John Terry who stumbled to the turf in acres of open space before rounding Petr Cech and rolling it in. 

2013/14 - Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal


Arsène Wenger’s 1000th game didn’t exactly go to plan - or at least the plan of those with an Arsenal persuasion. 

Within 17 minutes the Gunners were three goals and a man down after Kieran Gibbs had been mistaken by Andre Marriner for ​Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who handled in the area. 

Brazilian midfielder Oscar got two more before Mohamed Salah scored his first Chelsea goal (he would only score one more before being loaned to Fiorentina that summer). After his side had humiliated Arsenal, José Mourinho was nowhere to be seen at the full-time whistle. 

Mourinho explained his typically antagonising behaviour to the ​BBC after the match: “The game is over; my wife doesn’t know the result. She’s waiting for me to call. She’s always in doubt because she doesn’t know the result. So, if I can give her the result two minutes before, better.”

2014/15 - Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal

Diego Costa,Calum Chambers

Commentator Jonathan Pearce described the encounter as a ‘grizzly game’ to the Chelsea manager while Mourinho immediately hit back that it was, of course, a ‘top game’ which his side prevailed in. 

Regardless of Mourinho’s protestations this was an affair punctuated by niggling fouls, physical play and off-ball scuffles - the most notable of which occurred between the two managers. Wenger shoved Mourinho in the chest after Gary Cahill scythed down Alexis Sánchez a step away from the technical areas.

In Diego Costa’s first taste of the derby rivalry, the Spain international fitted right in to the feisty proceedings. Chelsea’s new arrival, while grappling with Laurent Koscielny in the box, put two hands in the Frenchman’s face before adding a hefty swipe to the head for good measure yet somehow only earned a yellow card. 

Costa proceeded to score Chelsea’s second after ​Cesc Fàbregas’ first game for the Blues against Arsenal saw him assist Eden Hazard’s opener. Both managers would later agree that the game which was devoid of dismissals should have seen three red cards. Unsurprisingly, both were suggesting that their opponents should have ended with eight men.

2016/17 - Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea

Alexis Sanchez

While the scoreline may look emphatic - in the first half Arsenal were superb on the counterattack as Sánchez, Mesut Özil and Walcott got on the scoresheet - this match would prove the defining moment in Chelsea’s ultimately successful season. 

Ten minutes into the second half, Antonio Conte substituted Fàbregas for Marcos Alonso and moved to a 3-4-3. From that point on Chelsea stuck to the three-man defence and went on an extraordinary run of 13 consecutive league victories. Conte claimed the Premier League title in a season that was subsequently billed as the re-ignition of the Pep Guardiola-José Mourinho rivalry.

Whereas Arsenal finished outside the top four for the first time in the 21st Century, 18 points adrift of their London rivals.

Source : 90min