The North London Derby – Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur
There are few rivalries felt more intensely than the London derby between Arsenal and Spurs (Tottenham Hotspur). It is a rivalry inspired by the closeness of the two grounds: a mere five miles separates Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium from Tottenham’s home in White Hart Lane. Both are set in areas of multicultural diversity and although Spurs were traditionally known as attracting a large Jewish support, certainly the same could now be said about their rivals.
Arsenal were not always a North London side – originally based in Plumstead and named Royal Arsenal due to their proximity to the Army’s armaments site in Woolwich, they moved to their famous Highbury ground in 1913. They remain the only team in English football not to be named after the locality in which they play. Once their move took place, the scene was set for a century of fiercely competitive football, initially exacerbated by claims that Arsenal manipulated themselves unfairly into the First Division in 1919, at Tottenham’s expense.
Meetings between the sides in the inter-war and post-war periods were spasmodic as Spurs spent many years in the Second Division. However since 1950 there has only been one season when the two sides were not in the same division, consequently the rivalry has been long running and intense.
Overall Arsenal have the better statistical record in matches against their North London rivals, boasting 66 League wins (First Division and Premier League) against 50 and with a goal difference of 36 goals in their favor. Arsenal also lead 11-5 in FA Cup and League Cup contests; the two clubs have never yet met in a final but have been involved in four semi-finals.
The first North London Derby since the introduction of the Premier League in 1993 saw a Tottenham away victory with a 3-1 win, helped by goals from Teddy Sheringham and two from John Hendry. Incredibly this was to be Spurs’ last away win against Arsenal for another seventeen years. They beat Arsenal again in 2011, by a 2-1 margin but in the reverse fixture what appeared to be a winning position at one stage proved illusory. Tottenham led with goals by Saha and Adebayor but then Arsenal put no fewer than five goals past them including two by Theo Walcott within three minutes. Embarrassingly the same emphatic 5-2 score line was repeated in the 2012 season.
2013-14 saw an Arsenal double with a one goal margin in each game whilst in 2014-15 a 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium was followed by a 2-1 Tottenham victory at White Hart Lane, with two goals from their new prolific striker, Harry Kane. We can confidently expect there to be no letup in the rivalry as the North London Derby goes well into its second century.
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