Why Chelsea are now a ‘bigger club’ than Arsenal after lifting second Champions League trophy

For young football fans growing up in the modern era, it is hard to imagine a time when Arsenal were the consistent dominant force over Chelsea in the capital.

17 years have now passed since the Invincibles’ Premier League triumph of 2004 and the Gunners have not lifted domestic football’s most significant piece of silverware since.

Arsenal’s Invincibles won the Premier League without losing a game – their last great team
Getty Images – Getty

Of course, the only trophy available to English teams which tops our own league is the European Cup – irrefutably the greatest prize in club football.

Arsenal have never won it in their entire history.

When you combine the 17-year title gap with the fact that next season will be their fifth consecutive campaign without even playing in Champions League, it’s impossible to make an argument suggesting they are the ‘Pride of London’ at present.

The only team in the city with a European Cup is my beloved Chelsea and, on Saturday, we took our opportunity to add a second of those most glorious trophies to our cabinet.

This was the tipping point for London’s power balance.

Chelsea first won the Champions League in 2012
The Blues are now champions of Europe once again

The idea of this switch is not a new concept, with a number of my fellow Chelsea supporters having claimed that we’ve been a ‘bigger club’ for several years now.

Personally, I’ve always been hesitant to agree until recent times.

Arsenal are historically a massive institution of English football – something that is easy to forget when focussing purely on the current state of the game.

They dwarf us in number of league titles won (13 to 6) and also in FA Cup victories (14 to 8).

However, Chelsea’s Champions League conquest in 2012 was a new feat for any London side.

Chelsea struggled to keep up with Arsenal in the past, but those days are long gone
Arsenal’s recent FA Cup wins over Chelsea have been greatly overshadowed by the Blues’ latest Champions League triumph

The city had never held the famous old trophy before and, as it is the greatest prize of all, there’s no doubt it sticks in the craw of all Arsenal fans that Chelsea were the first in town to capture it.

Nine years down the line, they’re still not remotely close to matching our achievement.

Perhaps more embarrassingly, the Gunners have spent the past four years in the Europa League.

That is no one-off, but a consistent showing of their level nowadays – ignominy for a supposed ‘big club’ like Arsenal.

And, even with the added motivation of Champions League qualification awarded to the winners, they’ve still never even won that lesser trophy.

Chelsea, rather shamefully I must admit, competed in the Thursday night competition twice in the past decade, but we at least took home the cup both times.

Arsenal have endured four years of Europa League drudgery

Our 2019 victory was actually quite satisfying too, as Arsenal supporters will no doubt remember it was their hapless side we thumped 4-1 in the final, denying them not only the trophy, but also a route back into the Champions League.

Chelsea’s win that night cemented Arsenal’s lowering status in European football.

Their latest Europa League semi-final defeat – to sacked ex-manager Unai Emery’s Villarreal – was a disaster befitting of their current position.

And now an eighth-placed league finish has ensured that next season Arsenal won’t even get the opportunity to play in Europe’s secondary competition.

UEFA’s new tertiary Europa Conference League is above them as well.

Chelsea thumped Arsenal to win the Europa League in 2019
They were condemned to miss out on Champions League football as a result

When Chelsea initially won the Champions League in 2012, it wasn’t enough to bridge the gap and cement us as a ‘bigger club’ in my opinion.

But, with everything that’s happened since, the gap built up by the Gunners’ glorious history is now gone.

Off the pitch, too, the Blues are financially a bigger team and have been for several years now.

Deloitte’s Football Money League lists Chelsea eighth in the world with €469.7million of revenue generated for their most recent season on record, while Arsenal sit 11th with €388million.

The 2016/17 campaign was the last year the Gunners ranked above their London rivals financially.

Arsenal have always trumped Chelsea through historical success…
…but now Roman Abramovich has driven Chelsea to become London’s biggest club

With protests against their current owners the Kroenkes seemingly proving fruitless, Arsenal’s current trajectory appears only to be heading one way.

We now have 20-year-old football fans who cannot remember witnessing a truly great Gunners side.

And the way things are going, this doesn’t appear likely to change any time soon.

In contrast, Thomas Tuchel’s Blues have pulled off another modern-day triumph in Porto, and there is now a new ‘biggest club’ in London.