It’s rare that two English Premier League sides face off against one another on five separate occasions in any given season, especially before the end of January.
However, that is the situation that London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea will be facing when they play against each other in the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
Ahead of the game, Blues fan and Football Journalism student Jonty Colman looks at the four previous meetings this season and makes his prediction for their final competitive encounter of the campaign on Wednesday.
#1- Sunday 6 August 2017 FA Community Shield: -Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea (Arsenal win 4-1 on penalties)
These two sides met at Wembley Stadium in the 2017 FA Cup Final, the final game of the 2016/2017 campaign. Arsenal went on to lift the trophy for a record 13th time with a 2-1 victory, despite a controversial opening goal from ex-Gunner Alexis Sanchez.
The two London rivals began their 2017/2018 season in a similar way to how they ended the previous term, with a match against one another at the home of English football, this time in the FA Community Shield.
The Blues took the lead shortly after half time through Victor Moses, who had been sent off two and a half months earlier in the cup final.
Arsenal defender Sead Kolasinac, who was making his competitive debut, scored the equaliser to send the match to penalties.
Arsene Wenger’s side comfortably won 4-1 in the penalty shootout; the final was the first match in England to trial the ABBA penalty-taking format, which proved to be too much for the defending English Premier League champions to handle.
Chelsea’s club-record signing Alvaro Morata made his debut as a second half substitute, but his only contribution came during the penalty shootout; however, the £58 million Spaniard was unable to put his spot kick past ex-Blues goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Antonio Conte’s men were keen to avenge this in both of their league meetings later in the season, but it was never going to be easy.
#2- Sunday 17 September 2017 Premier League – Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal
When they had previously met at Stamford Bridge seven-and-a-half months earlier, it was full of entertainment. Four goals, Cesc Fabregas scoring against his former side and a solo effort from Eden Hazard that left the entirety of world football gobsmacked; it really had it all.
Their clash in September had a lot to live up to and it certainly failed to deliver. It was a cagey affair in SW6 where neither side were able to find the back of the net.
Shkodran Mustafi had put his header past Thibaut Courtois to give Arsenal the lead, but it was disallowed for offside and rightly so.
Chelsea defender David Luiz received a second yellow card three minutes from time after a late challenge on Kolasinac.
This goalless draw proved to be a sign of things to come at the home of the five-time English Premier League winners.
#3- Wednesday 3 January 2018 Premier League – Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea
It was fair to say their first league encounter of the campaign lacked a lot in terms of the entertainment and quality that is normally displayed when these two heavyweights collide. However, their return league meeting was a serious contender to be one of the matches of the season.
Even at half time when it was 0-0, both sides had put in a fine attacking display, but goalkeepers Cech and Courtois had other ideas and showed why they are two of Chelsea’s greatest ever goalkeepers.
Shortly after the restart, Arsenal drew first blood when Jack Wilshere’s powerful strike flew in at the near post past Courtois.
But the Englishman’s wondergoal proved only to be of short-term value, as Belgian winger Hazard put the sides level four minutes later when he converted from the penalty spot.
Chelsea then took the lead late on when Marcos Alonso tucked home substitute Davide Zappacosta’s cross.
The Blues suffered heartbreak in stoppage time when Hector Bellerin’s curling effort was too good for Courtois to deny, as he avenged the penalty that he conceded earlier in the match with a strike fully worthy of a match of this calibre.
By this time the two teams knew that they would be facing each other twice more in January, in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, where they would be looking forward to adding more chapters to their ever-growing rivalry.
#4- Wednesday 10 January 2018 Carabao Cup Semi-Final first leg – Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal
A week after that four-goal-thriller, fans of both teams were hoping for more of the same; they couldn’t have been more disappointed if they tried. A 0-0 draw with limited action was what really took place.
Moses came the closest to opening the scoring in the first half after his shot struck the post on the angle.
Chelsea dominated the game, but it proved all to be in vein, as the match ended goalless.
Neither side could really complain with the result; Arsenal now know that a win or a goalless draw in the second leg will take them into February’s final, whilst a score draw or a Blues win will see Conte take his team to Wembley for the fourth time in less than two years.
#5- Wednesday 24 January 2018 Carabao Cup Semi-Final second leg
So how will this five-match series conclude?
Chelsea have scored just three times in their four meetings this season, two of which have come from their wing-backs.
Coincidentally, Arsenal have also managed to beat Courtois on just three occasions, two of which have also come from wide defenders.
Both teams have struggled in 2018 thus far; Arsenal crashed out of the FA Cup in the Third Round after a shock defeat against Nottingham Forest, whilst Chelsea drew their first four games of the calendar year, two of which were against The Gunners.
London’s two biggest clubs both bounced back on Saturday with convincing victories in the league. The Blues defeated Brighton and Hove Albion 4-0 during the lunchtime kick-off, whilst Arsenal were 4-1 winners against Crystal Palace.
Arsenal will be without Sanchez for the match as he secured a move to Manchester United on Monday evening. Despite signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan from United as part of the Sanchez deal, the Armenian will not be eligible for Arsenal in this last-four tie, as he has already featured in this competition for The Red Devils this season and is therefore cup-tied.
Chelsea look set to be without captain Gary Cahill and ex-Gunner Fabregas, who are both suffering with injuries.
I personally reckon that both teams will really go for it, knowing that a cup final place at Wembley is up for grabs.
The winner will face either Bristol City or Manchester City in the final, with Pep Guardiola’s side the likely of the two awaiting one of these London clubs.
Like all four of their meetings this season, I believe that this one will end as a score draw, which would be enough to send The Blues through.
Score Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea