London is the beating heart of the United Kingdom: an ever-pulsating metropolis both buzzing and blurred by the relentless pace of life in the capital. It’s home to some of the nation’s finest treasures – both people and places – and can lay claim to being one of the most vibrant cities in the world.
As for its football teams, they’re not half bad either.
London is able to boast 41 different sides in the top eight tiers of English football, 11 of which play in the Football or Premier League.
All in all, London accounts for almost 10% of the total Premier League and EFL teams in the country.
Despite its density for talent and perennial vying for success, only two teams can really stake a claim to being the best in the city. Naturally, of course, those two teams are red vs blue, North vs West: Arsenal and Chelsea.
* N.B. Let’s deal with the cockerel in the room here, while Spurs may be topping the tables their neighbours are supposedly dominating, zooming out to reveal the bigger picture makes it quite clear who the real competitors are. This millennium, for example, they’ve only nabbed one major trophy and are essentially awaiting the departure of a certain Harry Kane before capitulating back to mediocrity. Back to the big boys.
Over recent years, it has undoubtedly been the blue half of these battling Goliaths which has made the strongest case for holding London’s number one spot.
Since the Gunners last won the Premier League, for example, Chelsea have done so five times.
Likewise, for that same period, they wipe the floor with Arsenal in terms of both FA and League Cups, notching up a combined eight compared to Arsenal’s four.
However, things might not stay that way for long. Since Roman Abramovich yachted his way down the River Thames to lay eyes on his new boys’ toy back in 2003, Chelsea have seen a total of 15 separate managerial stints compared to Arsenal’s two.
Now, obviously, Arsene Wenger’s persistent dugout presence skewers that statistic a little, but Chelsea have still suffered a new gaffer once every year, only two of which have been interim.
Ultimately, it works out at a new full-time boss every 1.15 years. That’s completely unsustainable.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have become a club acclimatised to consistency. Admittedly, this perhaps manifested itself as complacency at times, but they’ve always seemed like a side building a brand, an image and a future.
While Chelsea chase success like a cat on a laser – though usually with greater results – The Gunners seek to build it like a fortress withstanding a siege. Every strand of Arsenal Football Club essentially came together under Arsene Wenger – apart from the fractious divisions among certain supporting clans – and so now they have an image, they’re recognisable and they plan ahead.
Their West London counterparts, at least from an external perspective, seem to be known largely for their questionable attitudes to cosmopolitanism, readiness to devour a quinoa flatbread and of course the reign of Jose Mourinho.
Amusingly, the only one of these no longer associated with the club is probably the only one who’d benefitted it.
With turbulence and change ironically being the status quo at Stamford Bridge, you have to wonder just how long Chelsea can sustain their triumphant ruling of England’s capital.
Signs of things falling apart are starting to show already and we can’t see them retreating.
Chelsea hire and fire like there’s no tomorrow, they disregard youth and they serve to entertain their oligarchical overlord more than they do to play football. None of these scream a recipe for sustainability.
Although Arsenal may be teetering on the brink of a catastrophic Kroenke takeover, at least they develop talent, buy with consideration and approach things with a timespan longer than three seasons in mind.
You only have to compare academy starlets to see how the two clubs differ in their fight for the future.
Whilst Chelsea have admittedly produced a myriad of young talent, much of it ended up going to waste or not fulfilling its potential at the club like so many did for Arsenal. As for the Gooner’s exportable products, they’re pretty astonishing.
This Saturday sees the two clubs go toe-to-toe for yet another bout in their combined 249-year history. While it may well be Maurizio Sarri’s boys who come away with the three points, it’ll surely be their counterparts who enjoy the last laugh in ten years’ time.
Chelsea’s instability is catching up with them and unless something miraculous happens over the next two years, it looks like Arsenal will be claiming their once untouchable status. London will soon crown a new King.