The Gunners have held the aces in both of those previous clashes; 2-0 in 2002, 2-1 in 2017; also sampling success on four other occasions since the turn of the century, courtesy of victories against Southampton (2003), Man Utd (2005), Hull (2014) and Aston Villa (2015).
There’s no denying that the FA Cup Final has been kind to Arsenal over the years. From their first victory (Huddersfield, 1930) to their 13th (Chelsea, 2017), the glittering ribboned silver trophy has been delivered to fans of the Red & Whites more often than any other club. Indeed, Arsene Wenger’s Gunners were the first side in the history of the competition to succeed on penalties following a drab goalless draw with Manchester United (2005).
The path charted to Wembley in 2020 has witnessed more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie novel. Newly-promoted Leeds United (R3), recently relegated Bournemouth (R4) and their struggling south-coast neighbours Portsmouth (R5) were all brushed aside prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the resumption of the professional game, the Gunners have fought hard to overcome the hardy Yorkshire battlers Sheffield United (Quarter Final) before springing a major surprise when out-smarting Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Semi-Final at Wembley a fortnight ago.
With Champions League football already guaranteed for the eight-time FA Cup winners Chelsea (courtesy of a fourth-placed Premier League finish) the pressure is off Frank Lampard. That burden undoubtedly lies on the shoulders of Mikel Arteta as he seeks to deliver his first trophy in management, and the all-important resulting place in the Europa League. It’s bordering on unthinkable to even ponder a modern-era Arsenal without the basic staple diet of European football. Sadly, defeat could ultimately lead to an exodus of the ‘more ambitious’ players in the squad, making Arteta’s rebuild a much trickier assignment.
Results wise, Frank Lampard’s Blues have just held the edge in this year’s Premier League clashes. However, positives can be drawn from the fact that the outcome of December’s game at the Emirates spun swiftly on a late and catastrophic Bernd Leno error of judgement. Furthermore, there was certainly no questioning the spirit and determination shown at Stamford Bridge the following month, when a battling ten-men Arsenal (David Luiz sent off in the first half for a professional foul) dug out a dramatic 87th minute equaliser through Hector Bellerin.