Saturday, November 9, 2013

9 November 1907 - The Top Flight's First London Derby

On 9 November 1907, Chelsea hosted Arsenal in the first London derby ever played in the First Division. Chelsea won 2-1.

Arsenal had been the first London team to join the Football League, starting in the Second Division in 1893, then moving to the top flight in 1904. They remained the only team from the capital in the First Division until Chelsea arrived in 1907, after two seasons of their own in the lower division.

Chelsea started the season poorly with only two wins out of their first ten matches and were sitting nineteenth in the table when they hosted Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. The Gunners, meanwhile, were in tenth. So it was a bit of an upset when Chelsea took a 2-0 lead with a brace from George Hilsdon. Arsenal narrowed the gap to 2-1, but could get no closer and suffered their fifth loss of the season. Various reports pegged the crowd somewhere between 50,000 and 70,000, which--in any event--was a new league record.

The teams met again in the first week of March and played to a scoreless draw at Arsenal's Manor Ground in Plumstead. By the end of the season, Chelsea finished in thirteenth, one spot ahead of Arsenal, with whom they were level on points, by virtue of a 0.85 goal average to Arsenal's 0.81.

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