Concluding the three-part series by looking back on the Cup finals featuring London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea.
For the first part, please click here; and part two here.
Europa League Final 2019
In 2019, the two London clubs met again in the 2019 European Cup final, which took place in Baku, Azerbaijan. It was an unpopular choice, given that there were no direct flights to the city from London, and it meant many fans didn’t have the price to attend the game in person.
It was the tenth final of the tournament featuring two teams from the same football association.
The first half went scoreless, although Arsenal came closest to scoring with an effort from Granit Xhaka that cut off the top of the bar. But, if the first half was tied, the second half was anything but, as Den Hazard took control for Chelsea. They took the lead of 49e minute, thanks to the former Gunners striker Olivier Giroud who scored with a header.
They then doubled their lead from Via Pedro, then took a three-goal lead from the penalty spot, thanks to Hazard. Substitute Alex Iwobi brought in a goal but Hazard scored again but Hazard scored again and Chelsea ran out of easy winners.
It was Hazard’s last game for Chelsea. He was sold that summer to Real Madrid for nearly £ 100million, but injuries and loss of form mean the Spanish club never seemed to replicate that level of performance.
And it was also the start of the end for Unai Emery and star midfielder Mesut Ozil. Emery would be fired within six months, and Ozil, who was taken out for Joe Willock in the 77e minute, found himself out of favor with three successive Arsenal coaches.
FA Cup 2020 Final
Arsenal were clearly the underdog heading into the 2020 FA Cup final.
They were now managed by Mikel Arteta who had taken over the management of the club at Christmas. This was after Unai Emery’s sacking the previous month and the brief acting stint of Freddie Ljungberg.
The Gunners were only due to finish eighth in the league that season, with only the Cup giving their supporters cause for hope. Still, they caused a big surprise by winning their FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City, thanks to two goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Chelsea were looking for their first financier under Frank Lagend, the club legend taking over the previous summer.
They started off much better and were in the lead by the fifth minute when a quick break found the Gunners’ defense on their heels, and Christian Pulisic was able to slip the ball home.
Gradually, the north London team pulled back into the game and leveled up when Aubameyang slipped in behind his backline and was shot down by captain Cesar Azpilicueta in the box, who was lucky enough to escape a red card.
However, he only lasted two more minutes before he was forced to limp with an injury.
The decisive moment came in the 67th minute when Arsenal escaped from the depths with full-back Hector Bellerin. The ball landed at the feet of Nicolas Pépé who transferred it to Aubameyang on the edge of the surface. He flipped Kurt Zouma over and then kept his cool to score with a chipped finish.
The only disappointment for Arsenal fans is that none of them were at Wembley to see it. The Covid restrictions meant the game was played behind closed doors.
Andy is an exiled English football fan living in Cyprus. He loves all sports, but football is his lifelong passion, and he still dreams of scoring the winning goal in a Wembley Cup final from time to time, even though his playing days are long gone. He follows most of the major leagues, at least across Europe, and has a privileged squad in each. When he’s not watching, listening, reading or downloading football podcasts, he spends his time worrying about his beloved Arsenal.
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