Arsenal might not have won the Premier League title since the Invincibles took the division by storm in 2003/04. But since then, the Gunners have added a very impressive haul of five FA Cups to their list of honours. And though they are only the third-best side in terms of the number of top-flight titles (behind Liverpool and record-holders Manchester United), Arsenal are top of the pile when it comes to the world’s oldest football competition. T
he Gunners have won the tournament 14 times, two more than their nearest rival, Man United. In this article, we’ll take a brief look back at the 14 FA Cup finals in which Arsenal were victorious, starting with their first triumph way back in 1930.
1. 1929/30 – Arsenal 2-0 Huddersfield Town
Prior to Arsenal’s first FA Cup win, they hadn’t won a major trophy (the London Challenge Cup being the height of their success to that point). But this victory kickstarted a period of sustained success that saw the Gunners win four top-flight titles in the following five years. Manager, Herbert Chapman, was the man behind this FA Cup success and the club’s first two league titles in 1930/31 and 1932/33. Sadly, Chapman died in January 1934, or he might well have added more silverware to the Arsenal trophy cabinet.
2. 1935/36 – Arsenal 1-0 Sheffield United
The Gunners lost out in the 1931/32 final to Newcastle, but they made up for it four years later when they won their second FA Cup thanks to a 1-0 triumph over Sheffield United. George Allison became the full-time replacement for the deceased Herbert Chapman in the summer of 1934 and promptly led the side to the league title in his first season in charge and then this FA Cup victory in his second.
3. 1949/50 – Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool
Under the management of former Arsenal wing half Tom Whittaker, the Gunners beat Liverpool 2-0 in the 1950 FA Cup final thanks to a brace from Reg Lewis. He made 154 appearances for the Gunners in total between 1935 and 1953, scoring an impressive 103 goals.
4. 1970/71 – Arsenal 2-1 (AET) Liverpool
The first time Arsenal had to rely on extra time to win an FA Cup final came in the season the club achieved the league and cup double for the first time. Bertie Mee’s Arsenal had won the league by a single point ahead of Leeds United, and here they faced Bill Shankly’s Liverpool for the chance to do the double. And do it they did, but it wasn’t easy.
The game was 0-0 after normal time and then Steve Heighway put Liverpool ahead early in extra time. Luckily for the Gunners, two of the club’s legends delivered when it mattered with first future boss, George Graham, and then fan-favourite, Charlie George, finding the goals to win the cup and the double.
5. 1978/79 – Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United
The 1979 FA Cup final was a five-goal thriller, but it was Terry Neill’s Arsenal who edged it 3-2 on the day against Dave Sexton’s Manchester United. In truth, much of the excitement of this thriller came in the last 10 minutes. The Gunners were 2-0 up with barely five minutes to go before Gordon McQueen and Sammy McIlroy scored to make it all square. Then up stepped Alan Sunderland, whose 89th-minute strike earned the Gunners their fifth FA Cup.
6. 1992/93 – Arsenal 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday (Replay)
One of Arsenal’s FA Cup heroes from the 1971 final was in the dugout when this final rolled around. And it took George Graham’s men two bites of the cherry to beat an exciting Sheffield Wednesday side managed by Trevor Francis. The first game ended 1-1 after extra time, Ian Wright scoring for Arsenal and David Hirst getting the equaliser.
The replay looked to be going the same way, with Chris Waddle’s second-half strike cancelling out Ian Wright’s first-half opener. But deep into extra time, an unlikely hero was born in the form of Andy Linighan. The defender from Hartlepool was playing with a broken nose at the time, but outjumped Mark Bright at a corner with just a minute left on the clock to head home the winner. And, the man who’d broken his nose: Mark Bright.
7. 1997/98 – Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United
The next time Arsenal made it to the FA Cup final, they had the innovative Frenchman, Arsène Wenger, in charge and a new era at the club had begun. Wenger had already led his side to the Premier League title, finishing a single point above Alex Ferguson’s Man United. And they made no mistake in the FA Cup final as they completed Arsenal’s second league and cup double with a relatively comfortable 2-0 triumph over a Newcastle side that was managed by Kenny Dalglish at the time.
8. 2001/02 – Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea
Wenger’s second FA Cup (and Arsenal’s eighth) came in 2002 when goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg proved the difference between the sides. Claudio Ranieri was in charge at Chelsea and his side was full of top stars, but Arsenal were just too good on the day.
9. 2002/03 – Arsenal 1-0 Southampton
Arsenal faced Southampton the following year in the FA Cup final and were widely predicted to dominate the game and win with room to spare. As it turned out, however, it was closer than many had anticipated, as Gordon Strachan’s Saints made life difficult for the Gunners. In the end, a 38th-minute strike from Frenchman Robert Pires was the difference as Arsenal bagged their ninth FA Cup.
10. 2004/05 – Arsenal 0-0 (AET) Manchester United – Arsenal won on penalties
There was little to separate the sides in the 2005 FA Cup final as the latest Wenger versus Ferguson battle ended with no goals scored after extra time. With replays having been abolished by this point, it went to penalties and Arsenal prevailed 5-4 after scoring all their spot-kicks and Paul Scholes had his saved by Arsenal keeper Jens Lehman.
11. 2013/14 – Arsenal 3-2 (AET) Hull City
There was a bit of a gap before Arsenal next tasted FA Cup success, and – as in 2002/03 – it was against rather unexpected opposition, this time in the form of Hull City. As with the match against the Saints, Arsenal were expected to walk it, but Hull put up a real fight and were quick out of the blocks, going 2-0 up within the first 10 minutes. Arsenal struck back and it was 2-2 at the end of normal time. Ultimately, the game was decided by Aaron Ramsey’s strike in extra time after a lovely back-heel from Oliver Giroud, which gave the Gunners FA Cup number 11.
12. 2014/15 – Arsenal 4-0 Aston Villa
A more comprehensive FA Cup final victory came in 2015 when the Gunners hammered Aston Villa 4-0 in a very one-sided affair. Arsenal were clinical, scoring four of their eight shots, while the Villans didn’t manage a single shot on target in the whole 90 minutes.
13. 2016/17 – Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea
Wenger’s final FA Cup triumph as Arsenal boss came in 2017 when he led his side to victory over Antonio Conte’s Chelsea. The Gunners got off to a great start when Chilean Alexis Sanchez scored after just four minutes, and it stayed 1-0 until deep into the second half. Then Diego Costa got the equaliser for the Blues before – just as in 2014 – Aaron Ramsey popped up to score the winner, again with an assist from Giroud.
14. 2019/20 – Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea
Arsenal’s most recent FA Cup success came against Chelsea once again, but this time the manager in charge was one of Wenger’s old players: Mikel Arteta. In this clash it was Chelsea who took an early lead (through Christian Pulisic) before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice for the Gunners to bring home their 14th FA Cup and Arteta’s first trophy as manager of Arsenal. Let’s hope it is the first of many for the Spaniard!