Since Chelsea’s ascension into becoming one of the most-followed and successful English clubs of the modern generation, their local North West London derbies against two clubs in particular have become even more intense. These teams are Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, who are Chelsea’s rivals in the Premier League. Even if the Blues have a bad season, a manager can potentially still become a hero in the eyes of fans if they succeed in winning the derbies against the two main rivals.
Chelsea – Tottenham Rivalry
This is undoubtedly Chelsea’s most fierce and intense rival. It dates back to 1909 when the clubs were known as West London Chelsea and North London Tottenham Hotspur respectively. Since then, the clubs have gone on to play each other more than 160 times.
Dating back to the 1967 FA Cup final which Spurs won 2-1, the clashes between the teams have been attracting massive audiences. The 1967 FA Cup final has since become known more well as the “Cockney Cup final” and more than 100 000 people were in attendance.
As a result of the intensity of the rivalry, violence among fans was never rare.
A poll conducted in 2012 suggested that fans of Chelsea considered Tottenham to be their most bitter rival.
An important match between the rivals also took place in the 1974/75 season. Both clubs were battling relegation from the old First Division. Spurs won the game 2-0. Chelsea were subsequently relegated from the First Division while Chelsea stayed up, with a single point saving them. The win over Spurs helped the Blues stay up that season.
Chelsea – Arsenal Rivalry
This rivalry become especially intense since Roman Abramovich acquired ownership of Chelsea in 2003 and transformed it into being one of the best teams in English football. Overall, Arsenal have dominated the rivalry though they have become more evenly matched over the last 20-years which coincided with Chelsea’s rice to prominence.
After Abramovich’s Chelsea revolution, Arsenal had to wait almost 20-years (until the 2020-21 season) in order to record their first league double over Chelsea.
Interestingly, Blues club legend Didier Drogba holds the record for the most goals in this derby as he found the back of the net 13 times in all competitions. The Ivorian’s first goal against Arsenal came in a 1-0 home league win during the 2005/06 season.
His last was in a 2-0 win over the Gunners, also in the league back in October 2010. There is data to prove that hatred between the clubs has grown significantly higher over the past two decades.
The clubs had never really considered each other as primary rivals. According to a 2003 internet survey, Arsenal fans had considered Chelsea as their third rival behind Manchester United and Tottenham.
Chelsea fans who responded to the same survey said that they never considered Arsenal as their main rival. By 2008, a survey done by Football Fans Census revealed that Arsenal fans hated Chelsea fans the most, even ahead of arch-rivals Tottenham.
Chelsea fans named Arsenal as their second most hated team, behind Liverpool, who are Chelsea’s rivals up north.