Who Are Chelsea FC's Rivals?

By Renata Leite, FootballPredictions.NET, 18:17 07/09/2020

Updated at: 14:27 15/09/2020

Who Are Chelsea FC's Rivals?

Chelsea stepped into the spotlight as one of England’s biggest clubs after their Russian-backed takeover by oil tycoon Roman Abramovich in 2003.

In the years since then, Chelsea has won 13 major trophies - the Champions League, the Europa League twice, the Premier League five times, the FA Cup four times, and the League Cup three times. 

With this success, Chelsea has accumulated a number of new rivals and grudge matches throughout the Premier League and beyond - as well as taking part in some hotly-contested historic London turf wars.

Chelsea have historical rivalries with fellow West London clubs Brentford, Fulham and QPR - although these fixtures are less prominent due to the clubs often playing in different divisions.

Fixtures against Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal are also considered by Chelsea fans to be important derby matches - owing to the competition for honours between the sides.

The Blues are also traditional rivals with Leeds United - a fixture that went on hiatus in the Premier League from 2004 until the 2020/21 season.

Leeds rivalry produced one of the best FA Cup finals in history

Chelsea’s derby with Leeds first emerged in the 1960s - with the Yorkshire side winning their first title in 1969 under Don Revie to become a force in English football for the first time.

The Blues were also towards the top of the English football tree during this period, challenging Leeds and Manchester United for honours throughout, thanks to club legends like Peter Osgood and Peter Bonetti.

The North-South divide in English culture also lent more significance to the fixture, as well as the two side’s extreme physicality on the pitch. 

This physicality reached boiling point during the 1969-70 season, in which the two sides faced off six times in all competitions - including the FA Cup final.

The final was contested in front of 100,000 at Wembley - with the game finishing 2-2 and requiring a replay.

The replay was hosted at Old Trafford, with Chelsea emerging 2-1 victors after extra time. The game was reviewed by modern referee David Ellray in 1997, who concluded that he would have awarded six red cards and 20 yellows to the two sides. The referee on the day awarded just one. 

The last meeting between the two sides in 2012 ended in a 5-1 away victory at Elland Road for Chelsea in the League Cup quarter-final. The two clubs will meet again in the Premier League for the first time since 2004.

London derbies always provide a spectacle - new and old

After the resurgence of Chelsea in the 1990s, they appeared to have outgrown their traditional West London rivals, graduating to larger battles with London sides Arsenal and Tottenham

Games against Arsenal have usually been battles for silverware - with the two clubs going tit-for-tat for different silverware during the 2000s and 2010s - with Arsenal beating Chelsea to the FA Cup in the 2019/20 season, and Chelsea beating Arsenal to the Europa League in the 2018/19 season.

Arsenal has won the most times of the meetings between the two sides - 38% of them in total from over 200 matches.

Chelsea’s rivalry with Spurs stems largely from the 1967 FA Cup Final, with two former Blues in Jimmy Greaves and Terry Venables securing the trophy for Tottenham.

The most poignant game in recent memory is the “Battle of Stamford Bridge”, with Eden Hazard’s late equaliser which effectively handed a first Premier League title to Leicester City.

It also condemned Spurs to a trophyless season. Chelsea has won 43% of all the meetings between the two sides.

West London rivalries with Brentford, Fulham and QPR have taken a back seat as of late thanks to a combination of Chelsea’s success and the difference in leagues between the sides.

Fulham and Chelsea have been playing each other less often due to the Craven Cottage club’s frequent relegations and subsequent promotions from the Premier League.

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