The league season is over. And with no World Cup or European Championship to look forward this summer, we’ve only really got two major games left of 2016/17: The Champions League Final and Saturday’s big showdown, the FA Cup Final.
This year’s big domestic cup face-off is between two London teams, Premier League champions Chelsea and 12-time FA Cup winners Arsenal. It’s a derby final. And you’d be forgiven for thinking that cup finals derbies aren’t all that rare. But in the post-war era, there have only been SEVEN local derbies in the final cup game.
But there have been some real classics amongst them. Let’s cast our football minds back and revisit those cup finals and see how they played out…
Arsenal Vs. Chelsea – 2001/02
When the ball passes back at kick off at 5.30pm on Saturday afternoon (neither of those two changes we’re used to yet), it’ll be the third time Arsenal and Chelsea have met this season. Both having won a game each so far.
While cup final derbies are rare, the two sides have actually met in an FA Cup final before. It was fifteen years ago now. The game ended 2-0 to Arsenal which, most fans and pundits agreed, was a pretty fair outcome. The second half saw two screamers settle the tie – one from man of the match Freddie Ljungberg and one from the Ginger Pele himself, Ray Parlour.
In truth, it wasn’t an amazing game. In fact, the first half was downright boring. But Arsene Wenger’s team selection trumped that of his counterpart Claudio Ranieri and the tactical battle ended in the cup going to the north of the capital.
Liverpool Vs. Everton – 1988/89
Arguably the fiercest local rivalry in English football, the 1989 cup final would see Liverpool and their Stanley Park neighbours Everton met for the second time in just three years. This game would finish 3-2 after extra time, with Everton’s goals coming from the now-Bradford manager Stuart McCall and the Reds’ coming courtesy of club legends John Aldridge and Ian Rush.
The game was played, of course, under the shadow of the Hillsborough disaster. So a Liverpool victory was resented by only the most ardent of Toffees’ supporters. After all, only five weeks before, 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives in that tragic terrace collapse in Sheffield.
Liverpool Vs. Everton – 1985/86
Three years previous, the Merseyside derby provided the two fighting it out for the FA Cup again. The pair had been confirmed as the two best sides in the country just seven days before the Wembley game, with Liverpool winning Division One and Everton finishing behind them in second place.
The 10th of May 1986 was to replicate the league season in just ninety minutes, with a decent game producing a good few goals, but the Reds coming out on top and taking home the silverware.
Future Match of the Day host Gary Lineker put Everton a goal up at half time, but three in reply in the second half from Craig Johnstone and Ian Rush (2) settled the thing.
Spurs Vs. QPR – 1981/82
When First Division hot shots and the then FA Cup holders Tottenham Hotspur took on West London rivals Queen’s Park Rangers, there was an obvious favourite. And it wasn’t Division Two’s QPR. But Spurs’ overwhelming stats didn’t really help them. In fact, it took a replay and a full three and a half hours of booting the ball about to eventually decide a winner. And, yup, it was Spurs.
The first final ended 1-1. And this was back when replays were played. So five days later, the 100,000 fans had to catch the tube back to Wembley to watch the North Londoners eventually scrape it with a 1-0 scoreline, courtesy of a 6th minute Glenn Hoddle penalty.
It’d be another decade before a team from outside the top flight would compete in a cup final again.
West Ham United Vs. Arsenal – 1979/80
Another London derby final featuring the Gunners, this time they took on their neighbours from the East, cockney upstarts West Ham. The Hammers, despite their pedigree and claims to have single-handedly won the World Cup, found themselves in Division Two in 1980. So, when they took on Arsenal, who had played in the last two cup finals, West Ham was pretty big underdogs.
That didn’t bother John Lyall’s men, though. Trevor Brooking’s 13th minute header past Pat Jennings was enough to sneak victory and see the cup heading towards the Upton Park trophy cabinet.
It’s the last time a team from outside the top division’s won the FA Cup. And it was 37 years ago.
West Ham United Vs. Fulham – 1974/75
The 1975 FA Cup Final was a battle of East London Vs. West London and a dual between two former England captains, Bobby Moore and Alan Mullery. It was to be Moore’s men that reigned supreme after two goals in four minutes from forward Alan Taylor were enough to settle the tie.
Of the 24 players that featured that day (including subs), there were 23 Englishmen and an Irishman.
Tottenham Hotspur Vs. Chelsea – 1966/67
Chelsea have faced London opposition in a cup final before. It was fifty years ago, mind. It was the first final contesting by two clubs from the capital and as such was nicknamed ‘The Cockney Cup Final’. Bill Nicholson’s Spurs, with a team including names like Terry Venables, Joe Kinnear, Jimmy Greaves and Alan Mullery, won it 2-1. The goals came from Jimmy Robertson and Frank Saul. With a late consolation for Chelsea from Bobby Tambling.
Chelsea go into Saturday evening’s game as favourites. But Arsene Wenger’s men have a real pedigree in the competition. Which fierce London rival will reign supreme…?