Throwback Thursday: Arsenal vs. Chelsea, 1952

Soccer Features Arsenal
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Arsenal and Chelsea hate each other. Hate. Hate hate hate. Haaaaaaaaaate. They’re not even each other’s primary rival, but the resentment between their respective fanbases is deep and real. Some Chelsea fans dislike Arsenal as much as Liverpool (which is really saying something), while a contingent of Gooners rank their hatred of Chelsea as on par with Tottenham (which, yeah, wow). Meetings between them are always tense, but cup ties get especially keyed up.

The semifinals of the 1951-52 FA Cup were scheduled to be played on March 29th. Newcastle United were set to take on Blackburn Rovers at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, while Arsenal and Chelsea were set to meet at White Hart Lane.

But then: disaster struck!

The pitch was buried under several inches of snow. Despite the best efforts of the groundskeepers to deal with the problem, the referee decided to abandon the match. (Personally, I don’t see the big deal. If the USMNT can play in snow, surely these hardy Englishmen can.)

They gave it another shot a week later, once again at White Hart Lane. The game finished 1-1, with goals from Freddie Cox (Arsenal) and Billy Gray (Chelsea). Another replay was scheduled to kick off two days later. (Oh yeah, side note, back then they didn’t really do extra time in FA Cup ties. They would just have replays. Endless replays. Even for the Final. Things got better, thankfully.)

So they met again the following Monday, with most of the players only getting one full day to recover (something that would be more or less unthinkable today).

THIS time, they got a definitive result. Freddie Cox gave the Gunners a 1-0 lead heading into the tunnel, then notched another goal in the second half. He also took the free kick that led to the gamewinner. Arsenal took the tie 3-0, and they only needed three tries to do it. They went on to face Newcastle in the Final, which they lost 1-0.

Arsenal and Chelsea meet again this weekend in the Premier League. Chelsea are two wins away from winning the league, while second-place Arsenal aren’t counting themselves out yet. Two teams with plenty of history, managed by two men with long-standing mutual acrimony, and the Premier League title is on the line. So, you know, no big deal or anything.