Rivalry Countdown: 5 Greatest Arsenal vs. Chelsea Moments
Sunday represents a crucial derby between the two rivals, as Chelsea host the Gunners in a pivotal fixture that will have ramifications for both teams' ambitions for the season.
The Blues are currently in third place, just a point ahead of a Spurs side who is quietly putting themselves into a great position to snatch a Champions League place—although the Blues can extend their advantage over Spurs if they can win their game in hand against Southampton on Wednesday.
The Gunners are already seven points behind Chelsea, and that gap could be as much as 13 points by the end of play on Sunday, which could leave their hopes of a top four place in tatters, especially if Spurs can beat Manchester United a little later on Sunday in the other massive game on Sunday in the Premier League.
Over the years, this fixture has provided many great moments that have entertained us immensely.
When asked to devise a list of the five greatest moments, it is quite tricky, as each fan will have a personal view on each moment.
So it is inevitable then, that there will be disagreements with the following five classic moments that I have selected, but that is fine. I will gladly debate the moments omitted from this list in the comments section below, so please feel free to get your points across.
These five are all fairly recent—it makes it a lot easier to trigger your memory if that game happened since the YouTube era began—so it would be great to know of some great games between these sides from a little further back.
I'll add some honourable mentions before we get started...
2002 FA Cup final
The game was finely poised at 0-0 until Ray Parlour did something he had seldom done in his career before.
The Englishman fired in a rocket from distance that had Carlo Cudicini grabbing at thin air and sent the Gunners into delirium. Freddie Ljungberg added a second shortly afterwards to seal the cup.
Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal 29/10/2011
This was a season where we had already witnessed the Gunners lose 8-2 at Old Trafford to Manchester United, and the league, as a whole, had completely forgotten what defending was all about.
So this eight-goal thriller was maybe not as exciting as it could have been in another year. Still, this doesn't take anything away from a career season for Robin van Persie, whose hat-trick at Stamford Bridge was one of his best moments that season.
Chelsea's League Cup success over the Gunners
The Blues claimed a famous 3-1 win over Arsenal in the semifinal of the League Cup in 1998—which Chelsea went on to win against Middlesbrough in the final—made famous by a Roberto Di Matteo's screamer.
Next year's competition represented an opportunity for the Gunners to exact revenge on Chelsea, but the Blues ran riot in a 5-0 victory at Highbury.
Arsenal full-backs help themselves to rare, sensational goals against the Blues
Since then, we have seen Bacary Sagna and even Andre Santos pop up with rare goals to haunt the Blues.
The Drogba and Lehmann Circus
These two were great entertainment in this rivalry and were hated equally by their rival's fans.
This classic moment where Didier Drogba was brushed by a Jens Lehmann glove, led to the Ivorian running up to the German stopper and slightly bumping into him, before the goalkeeper threw himself to the ground theatrically.
Widely lambasted in the media afterwards and rightly so, it was definitely a moment to remember.
Robben and Cole End Highbury Curse
Chelsea had not won at Highbury in the Premier League, and they entered this match as champions, knowing that this would be the final opportunity to do so before the Gunners moved to The Emirates.
It was a vital victory that basically ensured Chelsea of their second of back-to-back titles under Jose Mourinho, as the 2-0 win sent them nine points clear of the pack.
Arjen Robben dashed past the Arsenal back line and slipped the ball past a flapping Jens Lehmann and Joe Cole, ensuring the Blues broke the curse with a fine goal after capitalising on Lauren Mayer's error.
Michael Essien's Screamer Denies Gunners at the Death
The Gunners were leading with the minutes ticking away and the Blues' title bid hanging by a thread.
Mathieu Flamini had put Arsenal ahead, and Arsene Wenger's men were defending doggedly, but it was a super strike from the Ghanaian that broke their resistance.
Essien's wonder goal started well wide of the post and arrowed back towards goal, leaving Jens Lehmann with no chance whatsoever.
Kanu Stuns Blues with Incredible Hat-Trick
Nwankwo Kanu stunned Chelsea at Stamford Bridge with a fine hat-trick in the dying moments of the game to complete a remarkable comeback for the Gunners.
The Blues strolled into a 2-0 lead, but Arsenal never gave up, and it was the Nigerian who inspired the fight back.
His third goal was particularly special, dancing around Ed De Goey and firing into the top corner from the tightest angle possible.
It was truly unforgettable for both sets of fans.
Wayne Bridge Wins a Classic Champions League Tie
This was a classic Champions League tie at the beginning of Premier League sides' dominance in Europe's premier competition.
So the novelty of an all-English European tie was still relatively fresh.
The Gunners were favourites after taking a 1-1 draw from the first leg at Stamford Bridge and took the lead at Highbury through Jose Antonio Reyes.
Frank Lampard equalised before Wayne Bridge's stunner sealed the Blues' passage into the next round, 3-2 on aggregate.