The last Arsenal vs Chelsea FA Cup final is a snapshot of a different era

The Gunners won 2-0 but things were about to change significantly in the years to come

Arsenal, Chelsea, Tony Adams, David Seaman, Patrick Vieira, FA Cup, 2002

Arsenal captain Tony Adams, 2nd left, and Patrick Vieira lift the FA Cup as teammates Edu, left, and keeper David Seaman celebrate their 2-0 victory over Chelsea in the 2002 FA Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. PA/PA Archive/PA Images

Perhaps it's the tumble dryer of memory tossing things about but when I think back on FA Cup finals, gloriously sunny days appear to be the norm.

This weekend, Arsenal and Chelsea will do battle in the 2017 decider and it comes 15 years on from their last meeting in the final when Arsene Wenger's side prevailed 2-0 thanks to goals from 'The Romford Pele' Ray Parlour and Freddy Ljungberg. That day at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was indeed a sun-kissed affair.

As both clubs know, 15 years is an eternity when one considers the changes that can occur in that span.

A couple of things haven't changed of course. Arsene Wenger will still be occupying one of the benches and current Chelsea captain John Terry, who couldn't start the 2002 final after a pre-match illness but came on as a sub, remains the constants from that era.

But we're reaching the point where Terry is leaving Chelsea after 22 years at the club while some would love to push Wenger out of his beloved Arsenal after a similarly long spell in North London.

Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger (left) and captain Tony Adams proudly holding the Premiership Trophy and FA Cup.  John Stillwell/PA Archive/PA Images

It's a far cry from 15 years ago when he delivered his second league and FA Cup double for Arsenal against a Chelsea side that had established themselves as a top table side and cup specialists but lacked the ruthlessness to go further than that. Ruthlessness has been the attribute that has knitted together the Chelsea sides of the post-2003 era after the arrival of one very wealthy man.

That 2002 final came just over a year before Roman Abramovich's yacht landed on Premier League shores and rocked the English island nation's football foundations to its core.

It's a team that still contained an era of likeable Chelsea cult heroes like Gianfranco Zola and then manager Claudio Ranieri, falling short against a ruthlessly powerful and stylish Arsenal packed with leaders like David Seaman, Tony Adams, Sol Campbell... heck, the entire Gunners starting XI was packed with the totemic figures that Wenger's current squad is crying out loudly for.

They would still have one further peak when they became Invincibles in 2003-04, followed by an FA Cup the following year but while style has remained an attribute to remember recent Arsenal's styles by, that past ruthlessness has dissipated in the breeze of time.

That breeze has turned the tables, so much so that 15 years on from 2002, it's a slightly depleted Arsenal that are underdogs against ruthless champions going for a double in the shape of Antonio Conte's Chelsea. 

Perhaps the greatest signifier of change is to look at the picture above of Adams and Wenger side by side happily cradling trophies and the then captain's dismissive recent remarks in which he claimed his former manager is "essentially, not a coach". Fifteen years ago, such a public utterance would have been unthinkable as Wenger's Arsenal dominated English football.

Yet with a victory, Wenger would be on course for a record seventh FA Cup triumph. However, in contrast to 2002, even a win in what has become an even more secondary trophy than it was won't change the mood music around Arsenal too much.