Local Derbies in FA Cup Finals since the 1980s

Local derbies in FA Cup finals might not take place frequently, but such have occurred from time to time since the 1980s.

The 2024 FA Cup final marks the Mancunian derby between the Citizens and the Red Devils. They are squaring off on May 25, when Manchester City tickets will be in huge demand, as well as their opposition’s. This clash is a rematch from last season. On June 3, Pep Guardiola’s side defeated Bruno Fernandes and Co. 2-1. Ilkay Gundogan stars as the protagonist, having scored a brace at Wembley. Erik Ten Hag’s men were only able to score once from the penalty spot.

It will be interesting to see if this year’s final will result any differently from 2023, as Manchester United have been below par this season, both in domestic and continental campaigns. The Dutch boss is also under threat of dismissal. On the contrary, Erling Haaland and Co. are highly motivated to win the double as a consolation for their failure to defend their title in the Champions League.

In the history of tournaments, the FA Cup is no stranger to a local derby at the summit. It has been staged several times. Here are the three local derbies in the FA Cup final since the 1980s.

Liverpool vs. Everton

The Merseyside Derby is one of the most intense local derbies due to its long history. The duel between Liverpool and Everton not only occurred once but twice in the 1980s, within three years.

The first clash was staged in the 1986 final. Both teams were involved in a title race before Kenny Daglish’s men finally clinched the league title. The Toffees were the runner-up, only two points behind their local rival. In the FA Cup final, both had to square off again. Ian Rush and Co. eliminated Norwich City, Chelsea, York City, Watford, and Southampton to reach the final, whereas Howard Kendall’s side saw off Exeter City, Blackburn, Tottenham, Luton, and Sheffield on Wednesday to advance to the summit. The final ended 3-1 for Liverpool. Gary Lineker opened the scoring first in the first half before the Reds replied three times in the second half from Ian Rush’s brace and Craig Johnston’s goal. The Scottish boss successfully won a double in that season as a player-manager.

The second one was contested three years later. This time the duel was more intense as the game had to be decided in 120 minutes instead of within a normal time. The Reds took the lead first through John Aldrige, but Stuart McCall’s late equaliser forced the game into a tie and continued to extra time. Both sides traded goals within ten minutes. Ian Rush, who came off the bench, scored twice in the 95th and 104th minutes, whereas Everton was only able to reply once with another goal from McCall in the 102nd minute.

It was a consolation title for Kenny Dalglish’s side, which only finished second in the league in the 1988–89 campaign despite collecting the same points as Arsenal and goal difference. The Gunners were the ones who snatched the title due to scoring more with 73 goals in comparison to the Reds’ 65 goals. Unfortunately, none of the English clubs were able to compete in Europe due to the five-year ban led by the Heysel tragedy in 1985.

Arsenal vs. Chelsea

The London derby between Arsenal and Chelsea has been more prominent and well-known globally during the Premier League era, especially in the 2000s onwards. Both teams are the two sides that managed to meddle in Manchester United’s dominance in English football in the 1990s and 2000s. The rivalry between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho also spiced up the clash.

Interestingly, this derby is the most frequent one in the FA Cup finals since the EPL era. They have met in three editions, 2002, 2017, and 2020, with the same results, Arsenal’s triumph.

In 2002, they faced off for the first time in the final. It was the season when Arsene Wenger’s men were superior. They have secured the league title and aimed for a double-win. Chelsea, on the other hand, was only a dark horse at that time. The Blues, under Claudio Ranieri, only finished sixth in the standings. The result in the final was expected to be a 2-0 victory for the Gunners. Ray Parlour and Frederik Ljungberg netted the winning goals.

The second meeting took place 15 years later. Unlike the previous encounter in 2002, this time Chelsea was the league winner. They had secured the title and were tipped as the favourites against the Gunners, who only finished fifth. Arsene Wenger was already in the twilight of his managerial career, whereas Antonio Conte enjoyed his EPL debut with silverware, beating other teams with their high-profile managers, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, and Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. Unfortunately, it was Arsenal who came out as the winner in the final. Mesut Ozil and Co. thumped the Blues 2-1. Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey scored the goals, while Chelsea only netted once from Diego Costa. It was also Wenger’s last title for the North London side.

Their last encounter was held during the pandemic in 2020. Both sides did not finish strong since Chelsea only sat fourth under Frank Lampard, whereas Arsenal finished eighth under their new boss, Mikel Arteta. Interestingly, both knocked out the Manchester duo in the semifinals. The Gunners crushed Sergio Aguero and Co. 2-0, while Lampard led the Blues to smash the Red Devils 3-1. Arsenal eventually snatched the title after crushing Marcos Alonso and Co. 2-1. Pierre Aubameyang bagged a brace after conceding early to Cristian Pulisic.

Arsenal vs. West Ham

Another London derby that occurred in the FA Cup final is less intense compared to the other two above. The clash between the Gunners and the Hammers was staged in 1980. In the 1979/80 season, Arsenal only finished fourth in the final standings, while West Ham was not even in the top tier. They were only competing in the second tier and failed to seal the place for the promotion. Arsenal, naturally, was the favourite before the game. Yet, the result was unexpected. Frank Lampard Sr. and Co. managed to pick up a narrow win through a single goal from the current director of FA’s football development, Trevor Brooking. It was the last time a non-top-tier team clinched the FA Cup trophy.