With the help of club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton, we look back on a famous European night against Arsenal and a past visit to Baku...
We Have History
This is the 198th time in all competitions Chelsea have played our most frequent opposition, Arsenal. Our derby encounters always evoke memories of the unforgettable events in the Champions League at Highbury on 6 April 2004, played between the Premier League’s top two.
The first leg of the quarter-final at the Bridge on 24 March left the tie in the balance: the hosts had taken the lead through Eidur Gudjohnsen but Robert Pires levelled for Arsenal, and Marcel Desailly’s late second yellow ruled him out of the return in north London.
Arsenal’s away goal meant finding the net in the return match was a pre-requisite for Claudio Ranieri’s side, and Damien Duff went close with a shot after leaving Sol Campbell for dead halfway through the first half.
The Blues had been hunting the Gunners in packs whenever they had possession, but when Lauren’s cross was met by Thierry Henry the ball broke loose for Jose Antonio Reyes to squeeze past Marco Ambrosio, in for injured Carlo Cudicini.
Jesper Gronkjaer replaced Scott Parker at the break and five minutes later Claude Makelele’s speculative effort was fumbled by Jens Lehmann and gleefully dispatched into the net by Frank Lampard. Now it was all square, but the home side’s nerve seemed to desert them.
After Duff and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made way for Joe Cole and Hernan Crespo, and Dennis Bergkamp replaced Henry, the Blues created several chances, Ashley Cole clearing off the line from Gudjohnsen.
With 87 minutes on the clock the Icelander made one final telling contribution though, completing a one-two with Wayne Bridge, who stormed past pedestrian Gunners to fire into the far corner for the winner. Such scenes of abandon in the away end have rarely been seen before or since, and Chelsea had beaten Arsenal for the first time in five years to become London’s first ever Champions League semi-finalists.
On 29 May 1905 newly formed Chelsea were elected to the Football League before even kicking a ball. Honorary director Fred Parker helped oil the gears by plying rival club chairmen with whisky all night before they voted.
By coincidence both teams in tonight’s final have played at Baku’s Olympic Stadium recently. It is Arsenal’s second visit this season – they played Qarabag there in October.
Chelsea faced the Horsemen in last season’s Champions League group stage, our only previous visit and were 4-0 victors against 10 men. The sending-off led not only to a penalty coolly converted by Eden Hazard, but to a brief pitch-side ‘time out’ called by the home coach which almost resulted in the Belgian facing a goal without a ’keeper.
The Blues’ second ended a superbly sweeping move which left Willian in front of goal, and the third was another penalty awarded for a foul on the Brazilian, this time dispatched at the second attempt by Cesc Fabregas. Willian capped an influential evening with an unstoppable shot from distance.
Previous meeting with Arsenal in Europe line-ups
ARSENAL 1 CHELSEA 2
Champions League quarter-final second leg, Highbury, 06.04.2004
Arsenal (4-4-2): Lehmann; Lauren, Toure, Campbell, A Cole; Ljungberg, Vieira (c), Edu, Pires; Reyes, Henry (Bergkamp 81)
Manager Arsene Wenger
Scorer Reyes 45
Chelsea (4-4-2) Ambrosio; Melchiot, Gallas, Terry (c), Bridge; Parker (Gronkjaer h/t), Lampard, Makelele, Duff (J Cole 82); Hasselbaink (Crespo 82), Gudjohnsen
Manager Claudio Ranieri
Booked Gallas, Hasselbaink, J Cole
Scorers Lampard 51, Bridge 88
Referee Markus Merk (Germany)