Arsenal v Chelsea Preview: The King of the FA Cup is Once Again in the Final at Wembley

Here we go – the FA Cup final, we hold the record in both appearances (21) and  victories (13) – Arsene Wenger holds the record of most victories by a manager (7).

adams and vieira lift the Fa cup

Throughout my life I’ve listened to the finals on the radio (2) live at Wembley (6) and on TV (8) the other 4 were before my time. My personal excitement in the FA Cup has never waned and I used to travel as much as I could to see us play in the early rounds of the competition and it always amazed me at how much local excitement there was when we played in lower league cities. It is football at its best with top clubs always at the risk of being ousted by “Giant Killers”.

Soccer - FA Cup - Arsenal Winners Parade

But here we are a third Arsenal v Chelsea FA Cup Final our first was in 2002 – who can possibly forget the goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg and a few days later we beat Manchester United to gain our second League and Cup double under Arsene Wenger. 

Arsenal entered the competition in the third round and was drawn to play Watford of the First Division. They took the lead in the eighth minute, where good play by Nwankwo Kanu allowed Thierry Henry to round goalkeeper Alec Chamberlain and tap the ball into the empty goal. The lead was doubled two minutes later: Kanu again found Henry, who “unselfishly squared the ball to midfielder Freddie Ljungberg for another tap-in.” Gifton Noel-Williams moments later halved the scoreline, heading the ball in from a Gary Fisken cross. After squandering numerous chances to increase their lead, Arsenal added a late third and fourth goal from Kanu and Dennis Bergkamp, before Marcus Gayle scored what was a mere consolation for Watford in stoppage time.

Arsenal faced cup holders Liverpool at home in the following round. A solitary goal scored by Bergkamp in the 27th minute saw the home side progress in a match layered with controversy: Martin Keown, Bergkamp and Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher were all sent off in the space of ten minutes, the latter for hurling back a coin at the crowd. Against Gillingham in the fifth round, Arsenal twice had their lead cancelled out, before Tony Adams scored the winning goal of the match.

Arsenal played Newcastle United in the sixth round on 9 March 2002. It was the second meeting between both teams in a week, and in spite of Arsenal winning the first fixture and scoring the opener in the cup tie, Newcastle held them to a 1–1 draw. A replay was scheduled two weeks later at noon. Arsenal won by three goals to nil, but during the match lost Robert Pires to injury; he was ruled out for the remainder of the season with medial knee ligament damage. An own goal by Middlesbrough’s Gianluca Festa, from an Henry free-kick, was enough for Arsenal to win the semi-final.

The final was deadlocked and in the 67th minute Chelsea brought on Zola replacing Hasselbaink but the substitution did not have the desired effect as Arsenal went a goal ahead. Adams cleared the Chelsea danger and Wiltord’s reverse pass found Parlour with acres of space to manoeuvre. The midfielder advanced as the Chelsea defence backed off and looked up before curling the ball from 25 yards. His effort went over a diving Cudicini, into the top right-hand corner of the Chelsea goal.

Wenger made a defensive-minded change almost immediately, taking Bergkamp off for Edu. A clash between Henry and Terry in the 75th minute resulted in both players receiving a yellow card for unsporting behaviour. Winger Boudewijn Zenden replaced Melchiot a minute later; the attacking change altered Chelsea’s positioning. With 10 minutes of normal time remaining Arsenal extended their lead, when Ljungberg scored. A similarly executed goal to Parlour’s, the Swede ran forward, evaded the challenge of Terry before curling the ball past Cudicini from the edge of the penalty area. Ljungberg was serenaded by the Arsenal crowd, who chanted “We love you Freddie, ‘cos you’ve got red hair.” Chelsea struggled to find a response; Guðjohnsen’s foul on Parlour late on highlighted the team’s frustrations. Riley blew for full-time after normal and stoppage time. Once Arsenal received their medals, Adams was given the cup and he shared the honour of lifting it with Vieira, his stand-in captain.

Here is a look back:-

Next up we met in 2017 – the “Mertesacker Final”

Arsenal, as a Premier League team, started their campaign in the third round. In it, they were drawn away at Football League Championship Preston North End. At Deepdale, Arsenal won 2–1 with goals from Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud. In the Fourth Round, Arsenal drew fellow Premier League Southampton. At St Mary’s Stadium, Arsenal won 5–0 with two goals from Danny Welbeck and a hat-trick from Theo Walcott. In the Fifth Round, Arsenal were drawn against non-league National League Sutton United away. At Gander Green Lane, Arsenal won 2–0 with goals from Lucas Pérez and Walcott. The match was also noted for Sutton United’s reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw being investigated by The FA and Gambling Commission for eating a pie pitchside despite there being betting odds on him doing so. In the quarter-finals, Arsenal were drawn at home against National League Lincoln City. At the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal won 5–0 with goals from Walcott, Giroud, an own goal by Luke Waterfall, Alexis Sánchez and Ramsey. In the semi-final at neutral Wembley Stadium, Arsenal played against Premier League Manchester City and reached the final after a 2–1 win with goals from Nacho Monreal and Sánchez.


Despite what was expected to be a tight affair in the Final, Arsenal dominated the early proceedings and opened the scoring with a goal from Alexis Sánchez in the 4th minute, shooting past the advancing goalkeeper from six yards out with his right foot. The goal was initially flagged as offside due to Aaron Ramsey being in an offside position. After discussing with his linesman, referee Anthony Taylor overrode the decision and awarded Arsenal the goal due to Ramsey not attempting to play the ball. Sánchez also handled the ball in the lead up to the goal but this was not seen by the referee. Arsenal then hit the post twice from close range in the first half through Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck.

In the second half, Victor Moses received a second yellow card for diving in the penalty box in the 68th minute, leaving Chelsea with ten men. Chelsea equalised through Diego Costa in the 76th minute when he controlled the ball on his chest in the penalty area before shooting low to the left with his right foot. Three minutes later Aaron Ramsey scored for Arsenal by heading in an Olivier Giroud cross from the left from six yards out.

After producing an extraordinary man-of-the-match performance in the FA Cup final triumph for Arsenal, Per Mertesacker admitted that “everyone had written me off” after spending more than a year without making a start for his club.

<> at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England.
<> at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England.

The 32-year-old German has suffered a serious knee injury and has also been overlooked by manager Arsene Wenger but was called upon following a defensive crisis which ruled out Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and Shkodran Mustafi for the final against Chelsea.

“Two weeks ago I was on holiday – I didn’t expect to play,” Mertesacker said. “Everyone trusted me and supported me throughout the season and the manager gave me the opportunity. Arguably he played the best game of his Arsenal career.


Now we have our third Final against Chelsea and my My wishes and Hopes are that we carry the Cup home and plat in Europe in 2020/21.

Arsenal FA Cup Final Appearances
# GF GA Year Venue
1 Cardiff C 0 1 Arsenal 1927 Wembley Stadium
2 Arsenal 2 0 Huddersfield 1930 Wembley Stadium
3 Newcastle 1 2 Arsenal 1932 Wembley Stadium
4 Arsenal 1 0 Sheffield U 1936 Wembley Stadium
5 Arsenal 2 0 Liverpool 1950 Wembley Stadium
6 Newcastle 0 1 Arsenal 1952 Wembley Stadium
7 Arsenal 2 1 Liverpool 1971 Wembley Stadium
8 Leeds 1 0 Arsenal 1972 Wembley Stadium
9 Ipswich 1 0 Arsenal 1978 Wembley Stadium
10 Arsenal 3 2 Man. United 1979 Wembley Stadium
11 West H 1 0 Arsenal 1980 Wembley Stadium
12 Arsenal 2 1 Sheffield W 1993 Wembley Stadium
13 Arsenal 2 0 Newcastle 1998 Wembley Stadium
14 Liverpool 2 1 Arsenal 2001 Wembley Stadium
15 Arsenal 2 0 Chelsea 2002 Millennium Stadium
16 Arsenal 2 0 Southampton 2003 Millennium Stadium
17 Arsenal* 0 0 Man. United 2005 Millennium Stadium
18 Arsenal 3 2 Hull City 2014 New Wembley Stadium
19 Arsenal 4 0 Aston Villa 2015 New Wembley Stadium
20 Arsenal 2 1 Chelsea 2017 New Wembley Stadium
21 Arsenal Chelsea 2020 New Wembley Stadium


Message from TotalArsenal:

Today’s post is in honour of GN5’s sister, Gloria, who very sadly passed away last week at the age of 80. GN5 and his sister are  originally from Highbury but both emigrated to Northern America and were very close till the end. The funeral will take place on the day of the FA Cup Final and let’s hope the boys will do both Gloria and GN5 proud. Gloria Concordia Crescit! R.I.P.

See the source image

63 thoughts on “Arsenal v Chelsea Preview: The King of the FA Cup is Once Again in the Final at Wembley

  • It is amazing GN5 that you were able to write this fine and passionate post under such difficult personal circumstances. Thank you and my thought will be with you tomorrow. Stay strong buddy and try to remember all the good times you had together.

  • I’ve not read the post yet GN5, but I know it will be quality, so I am saving it for tomorrow as part of my build up to the game. Thanks for all the work that you’ve done on the pre match posts this season your efforts have been exemplary. Early night for me, tomorrow is going to be a massive day, so sleep well everyone.

    Total, top message at the end, well done.

  • Thank you for the thoughts guy’s – especially to Total for his dedication to my lovely sister. I’m not at all sure if I will be commenting tomorrow so enjoy the game and let’s get FA Cup # 14 in our trophy cabinet.

  • It’s somehow very gratifying to remember that Spurs have not won the FA Cup since 1991 – (and the League in 1961).

  • Thanks for such a brilliant recount of those cup wins, GN5. More importantly, thanks for the effort you made given your state of health and mind. Your previews are always a great read and this was no exception.

    I do hope the lads win it, for Gloria. Once again, may her gentle soul Rest In Peace.

  • Spurs win nothing, yet you don’t have the media and pundits remind us of the “years since they last won” anything of significance. Pochettino was threatening to win them something and they went on to sack him after a bad run of games. That gave me joy, no end.

    With the right selection and determination, we will win it. Arteta has to find a role in the team for players like Ceballos, Tierney, Torreira, AM-N, Laca, Nelson, Xhaka and Luis for this game. They represent our most ballsy players, of those fit for the game and likely to be picked. It will take fighters to get the job done.

    Good luck, lads.

  • That was indeed a good angle to the post, GN5. Can we make it three in three? With discipline and luck we can, and just from a tactical point this will be a great game to watch.

    Key for me is the core of the team to stand strong and stay on the pitch: Martinez – Luiz – XhakA – Laca/Auba. If these five have an excellent game and the rest work hard, we have a good chance to win.

  • It cup final day and it’s warm and sunny outside although not as warm as yesterday thankfully but traditional cup final weather.

    I shall be leaving later on this afternoon to get the train to my sons where a gang of us will endure and hopefully enjoy the day, 5.30pm UK time mean a really late finish if we go into extra time.

    Great post GN5, as you was recounting our recent successes vs Chelsea for some reason Arsenal’s FACup 5th Round game at Wrexham in 1978 came into my mind.
    I was a postman in those days, single and carefree and so a group of about 10 of us hired a minibus and we drove from London to North Wales, I wasn’t driving thankfully so I couldn’t be blamed for us getting lost somewhere in Shropshire on the Welsh border. Somehow, with the help of directions from amused locals we made our way to Wrexham before kick off, obviously we had no time for prematch libations so with all of us stone cold sober and a little chastened we went straight to the Racecourse Ground (I think that was it’s name?) and we saw one hell of a game.
    Wrexham were in the third tier of English football at the time, we’re a really good side and had a great reputation as a cup fighting team who had dispatched several teams from the higher echelons over the previous few seasons in cup ties.
    The Wrexham ground was a typical tight pre war stadium with odd looking stands and terraces and we were at the open end which was very much pre EPL. Finding a serviceable toilet in those days was really a journey into the unknown, younger football fans nowadays have no idea how basic it was but I guess we were tougher back then… 😀
    I can’t remember all the goalscorers but I think that Wrexham scored first and I’m pretty sure that Dixie McNeill their ace marksman scored. It was an end to end battle and a real old traditional cup tie but Arsenal prevailed 3-2 with Willie Young our centre half scoring an amazing overhead type goal.

    The journey home took forever and I swore that I would never visit Wrexham again, but it was quite an experience and what makes the FACup the competition it is…

  • As for today’s match up, well from what I’m reading in the media Arsenal can’t defend, we have no midfield and we can’t finish, on top of that apparently Aubameyang always bottles it in cup finals, Lacazette can’t score anyway and Pepe is a show pony. Then we have Luiz who is going to lose his mind and get sent off, Holding can’t kick a ball and is going to get mullered by Giroud and Saka is overrated.

    Lampard on the other hand is a tactical genius, Pulasic is the best player in the world, Cabbiero is the king of saving penalties so forget them, Giroud is the new John Charles, Mason Mount is the best young midfielder in the world and if Tammy Abraham’s comes on he’ll destroy us.

    Fellas, it’s hardly worth us turning up, it’s gonna be Baku MkII, we may as well give Chelsea the cup according to the media…

    Failing that referee Anthony Taylor will stitch us up anyway. We’re doomed… 😉

    So, enjoy the game and COYG…

  • Great story re Wrexham, Kev. Just shows how memory focuses on the positives and lessens the negative elements from that trip. How different this would be had Arsenal lost that game, though.

  • I’ve got a few memories, far too many really, of away games which ended not so well Total, but I’ll save them for another time… 🙂

  • I’m getting stressed now, less that fours hours to kick off and it’s building up.
    You never lose it…

    I’m all set for my train journey, wallet, keys, carrier bag, baseball cap, cardigan for later, phone, hand gel, latex gloves, face mask, just your average day In Blighty… 😀


  • thanks a lot for refreshing these pleasant memories, gn – and for your wrexham trip narrative, kev, which is what football and friendship are all about
    2017 was a fabulous moment, all the more so since what kev’s just written about the media was already true, three years back – I just can’t figure out what turns them into such belligerent ignoramuses when The Arsenal’s at stake …
    I’ve just been catching up on the posts/comments I missed, and was sad to hear about your sister, gn
    at some point, I’m pretty sure she must have cursed Van the Man for the song that made him famous
    it’s been a very long time since I got hooked by morrison’s music/singing (“st dominic’s preview”; 1972, and “hard nose the highway; 1973); actually when an arsenal game is on, I very often turn the sound off, because I can’t put up with the rubbish comments and/or anti-arsenal bias, and play some of his records.
    tonight, I’ll put on “wavelength”, and when the time for the chorus of van’s love letter to america comes, I’ll be thinking of you and your sister:


  • Solid line up, with Laca probably helping out in midfield (as per 5am). The quality passes will have to come from Ceballos, XhakA and Luiz.

    CoyrrGs 🌋🌋🌋

  • goonereris says:
    July 30, 2020 at 18:43
    I do like your line up, TA (though, expect Arteta to stick with a 3-4-3, with a front 3 of Auba, Laca, Pepe) as it gives us defensive assurance, which we would need because Chelsea has improved with some sleek passing through channels, where available. So if we can limit the channels, it will cause them to be listless; That’s why we need strong wing backs who should play to block off the crosses. On the right side, I feel Arteta will go for Bellerin in the hope he bombs forward enough to give Alonso something to think about, while hoping between Ceballos and Holding, we cut off crosses.
    We have the weapons to hurt them too and I fully expect Arteta to come up with, at least, one surprise name on the team sheet, just to enhance our solidity: Reiss Nelson or AM-N, maybe. We’d see.

    Excerpts of my post, two days ago. Don’t want to gloat but, hey! That was as close as you could get, right? 😎😉

  • Full line ups:

    Arsenal XI: Martinez; Holding, Luiz, Tierney; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang

    Chelsea XI: Caballero; Rudiger, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Alonso, Kovacic, Jorginho, James; Mount, Abraham, Pulisic

  • Chelsea do have a bit more in reserve (Subs) than we do so, here’s hoping this ends in the 90 minutes regulation time.

  • Some records show Giroud starting, others have Tammy Abraham’s starting as striker for Chelsea. I’d imagine Giroud should be the pick for them. Willian couldn’t feature as he is not fit. Poor guy, not that I am complaining.

    Now, to settle in to watch the game.

  • I came into this one fearing Giroud and Pulisic and it took only 6 minutes for them to do the damage. Central midfield went missing in particular Dani was marking noone and allowed an easy pass behind him while out of position horrible start.

  • well … baku all over agin??
    the number of times we’ve given the ball away just begs belief
    for the first time in months, granit is absent
    laca’s too, and is bullied by zouma; to his credit, in his position, when a team produces nothing – which is our case – you just don’t exist
    were it not for emi, we’d be 2 or 3 goals down
    only silver lining, ainsley’s doing very well

  • wow what a shame was just thinking Pepe would have a good game that was going to be a good goal but alas here is a penalty

  • Great response and LE you are so right AMN been very involved and doing well.

  • I am concerned about Holding and Belerin who are going to be targetted by Pulisic and company. Holding also gets very nervous in possession so they will look to let him get the ball and then pressure him.

  • Good pressing and Pepe starting to cause havoc now but our midfield has stepped up too.

  • It’s tight…..wonder whether Arteta might think about switching AMN to Bellerin’s spot to bring Saka on at left wing back at some stage 🤔

    There’s def been chances all round though!

  • so
    time to breathe
    mikel must have given the lads hell during the water break – it’s been much better since; granit, hector, have come back to life
    laca’s very worrying, looks like he caught a bug or something, the way he took his free kick 3 minutes from ht, was terrible …
    azpilicueta’s a great loss to them, but their bench is strong (barkley/kanté/hudson-odoi) – something must’ve been wrong with willian/loftus-cheek, though
    taylor’s been good so far, quite nice to us; mount and kovacic are under a yellow – i fear that “kindness” might backfire in the 2nd half, though
    shame pépé’s goal was (rightly) disallowed – what a beauty that was, pure class

  • Was a slow start and we needed that early shot to wake us up (not ideal, but it is what it is). As the game wore on and they copping a couple of yellow cards and with their captain off through injury, I thought we should have pushed for a lead. It was a good time.

    They will come out with new ideas in the second half; Hope our ideas are the better ones.

  • Tierney won’t be happy with that switch, 5am. Holding would not mind though. Both Bellerin and Pepe are not the best company, defending. Loftus-Cheek and Willain are both injured.

  • Laca had a good chance to score the free kick but just banged it straight at the player rather than chipping or a quick shift to the right for a clear shot angle…..

    Would’ve thought there’d be a pecking order for free kicks, where Luiz is the best for the positions it’s fallen so far 🙄

  • Wow Pulisic injured now could have easily been another goal just as I feared he went past holding like he wasnt there but looks like he done his hamstring

  • I understand not wanting to change too many things at the back but I really think Holding with his lack of pace is far better suited to the middle and having Luiz on the right

  • 3rd quarter – water break
    back to square one, we were very poor – again – except for rob, who is himself again, what a natural born great defender he is
    and then … auba!!!!!!!
    the man’s definitely on a mission; this cup’s his, this second goal must ‘ve been his most henry-esque so far
    so … fourth quarter ahead, who among you said “nerve-wracking”???

  • Yeah been a while since we had not only the ref but injuries as well go our away in any game let alone a big game

  • As awful as Baku went for us it has gone just as bad for Chelsea just wish we had put more on the scoreboard but I will take a win

  • 7.30pm
    bergkampesque exclusive; mikel to frank:

    and now:
    CHAMPAGNE !!!!!!!!! (a good AND not expensive one – always keep a bottle in the fridge on final days)

  • What a redemption for AMN hope we keep him around Arsenal through and through

  • Congrats, all round, guys! Too happy to put my thoughts together and still taking calls and messages.

  • Makayah, LEGALL and 5am, thanks for keep8ng things going here. Thoughts still with GN5; hoping he kept tabs on livescore. “Gloria Concordia Crescit”, indeed!

  • All well that ends well!
    I’m not too happy for finishing at the 8th place, but I wouldn’t swap it for a 5th place without the FA Cup title.
    Well done lads (both on the pitch and in the BK community).
    Arteta was fine today. I only wish he substituted Saka and Smith along with Kolasinac in the dying minutes.

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