May 03, 1971: Arsenal were to play their final match of the campaign at White Hart Lane, and they needed a win or a scoreless draw to get the League crown (one half of the ‘double’ they would do that year). Ray Kennedy headed home the winner with three minutes to spare, and Arsenal lifted their eighth league title in front of their bitter rivals and on their home turf.
April 25, 2004: ‘The Invincibles’ needed a point to lift their thirteenth league title, and White Hart Lane was the chosen destination to accomplish this feat. Though they went 2-0 ahead with strikes from Vieira and Pires, Spurs equalized through Redknapp and Keane. However, it was enough for Arsenal to lift the trophy that season, replicating the 1971 feat.
The biggest reason for the rivalry between the North London teams dates back to the year 1919. After the war, the league was expanded to include two more teams. Chelsea, who were placed nineteenth and destined to be relegated, took the first of the available two berths. Spurs, who had finished twentieth and were supposed to get the final slot, were actually denied by their closest neighbour (only four miles separated Highbury and White Hart Lane), though Arsenal had finished fifth in the second division.
Many believed that the then Arsenal chairman, Sir Henry Norris, had a hand in their promotion; but the votes count for seven clubs(the others being Spurs, Barnsley, Forest, Birmingham, Wolves and Hull City) clearly showed that Arsenal were the favorites to enter the coveted First Division. To this day, both clubs remember that particular year, and enjoy seeing each other suffer.
Records and St. Totteringham’s day
November 13, 2004: In the most closely contested North London Derby ever, Arsenal won the match at at The White Hart Lane, with a 5-4 scoreline. It was Arsenal’s first win since their record forty-nine consecutive league wins, which halted three weeks ago at Old Trafford. In a display of abysmal defending and brilliant attacking football, goals from Thierry Henry, Lauren, Vieira, Ljunberg and Pires were all that mattered at the end of the day.
Terry Dyson is the only Spurs player to score a hat-trick in a North London Derby, achieving the feat in 1961, while Ted Drake (in 1934) and Alan Sunderland (in 1978) did the same for Arsenal against their North London rivals.
St. Totteringham’s day is the day celebrated every season by Arsenal fans, when Arsenal have mathematically assured themselves enough points to finish the season ahead of Spurs. The eventful day has only once been decided after a direct confrontation in the 2006-07 season, at White Hart Lane, when Arsenal drew Spurs 2-2 and snatched the last Champions League spot from them. One ‘Julian Shulman’ is credited with coming up with the concept of this day.
The Reverse Fixture
Arsenal 3 – 0 Spurs
(Van Persie (2), Cesc)
Famously termed as the ’Eleven Seconds Derby’, Arsenal and Spurs looked almost equal till the forty third minute of the first half at The Emirates. A defensive mistake from Robbie Keane, a brilliant low cross from Sagna and a timely touch from Robin Van Persie gave the home side the 1-0 lead.
Then came the moment of the match! After kick-off, Van Persie passed the ball to Cesc after Palacios lost possession, the Arsenal captain danced past every Spurs player ahead of him to smash home Arsenal’s second and his sixth goal of the campaign. There was precisely eleven seconds of playing time between the two goals.
After Clattenburg had played an advantage, with confused Spurs players stopping for the foul, Sagna went ahead and crossed another low ball for the Dutchman to make it 3-0 to Arsenal in the second half.
Crossing the Divide
Pat Jennings O.B.E. (Spurs – 1964-77, Arsenal – 1977-85)
Probably the only legendary character that can calmly enter both the rival stadiums (The Emirates and The White Hart Lane) and be applauded by the respective fans, Pat Jennings was a special talent to transcend the North London rivalry. The trademark one-handed save and the unique shot-stopping with the legs (unique back then) made the unflustered Irishman a treat to watch. Jennings, one of the finest exponents of the game of football, ranked the tenth greatest player to play for Arsenal, played international football for twenty two years, earning one hundred and nineteen caps for Northern Ireland. Blessed with an incredible positional sense, the great man never needed to do something extravagant to stop a goal. The remarkable shot-stopper retired from international football, playing the World Cup at Mexico at the age of forty.
Sol Campbell (Spurs – 1992-2001, Arsenal 2001-06, 09-Present)
“I became a recluse within my own house. I became insular because at home there was no space to grow or to evolve, everything was tight and there was no room to breathe. People don’t realize how that affects you as a kid. I wasn’t allowed to speak, so my expression was football”
Sulzeer Jeremiah Campbell became Spurs’ linchpin defender in the early 1990s, due to the age and injury problems of Spurs captain Gary Mabbutt. Though Campbell was brilliant in his time at Spurs, they never finished better than seventh in his ten years tenure at The White Hart Lane. Campbell, meanwhile, was a regular in the English team, partnering Tony Adams and later Rio Ferdinand to form a commendable protective force at the heart of the English defence.
Labelled as ‘Judas’ by the Spurs fans, Sol did the unthinkable in the modern era of English football. He crossed the North London divide, despite the rancor he faced from the Spurs fans, to join Arsenal on a free transfer in 2001-02. Taking advantage of the newly formed Bosman rule, the talismanic stopper and the former England Captain signed for Arsenal, and attained immediate success with the Premiership and FA Cup double in 2001-02. He was also in the ‘Invincibles’ squad of the 2003-04 season, forming a deadly defensive partnership with Ivorian Kolo Toure. Sol left the club after Arsenal’s loss to Barcelona in the Champions League final at Paris in 2006; incidentally, he scored Arsenal’s only goal of that match.
In his second spell at the club, Sol won’t be expecting anything less than a cold reception from his former club supporters, when Arsenal meet their rivals on 14th April at The White Hart Lane.
Tottenham, who are in the middle of a daunting fixture list, need to pick themselves up before they face their fiercest rivals. They lost their last league fixture away to Sunderland 1-3, and failed to get the better of a weak Pompey side at The New Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final three days back. The club’s attacking influence lies in the legs of Jermaine Defoe, who has scored seventeen times for Spurs this season in the league. Peter Crouch and ‘back in form’ Russian striker Pavlyuchenko are able backups to Defoe. With an untimely injury to Niko Kranjcar, the burden lies on Luka Modric’s shoulders to provide all the midfield support to the strikers up front. Spurs badly need to win this fixture to keep their Champions League qualification hopes alive.
After a painful defeat at the hands of Spanish giants Barcelona, Arsenal are now left with the league as the only possibility of a silverware this season. Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner will once again take up the lone striker mantle upfront, and with the possible return of club talisman Robin Van Persie, will try his best to add to his goals tally for this season. With the absence of club captain, Cesc Fabregas, Russian ace Andrei Arshavin and possibly Alex Song, Arsene Wenger is hardly spoilt for choices in the centre of midfield. Campbell will possibly make his return to White Hart Lane, to partner the Belgian Thomas Vermaelen in the heart of Arsenal’s defence. Eleven days of recovery from the last match, Manchester United dropping points at Ewood Park, and Spurs playing 120 grueling minutes at The Wembley just three days ago – these are strong enough reasons for Arsenal to get the better of their rivals in this season-deciding fixture for the Gunners.
For Arsenal vs Spurs trivia – Check this.
Arsenal vs Spurs famous joke – Check this.
Incredible fact – Jimmy Robertson is the only player to have scored for both teams in North London derbies.
Nov 7, 1999, White Hart Lane, Ars 1-2 Spurs, was the only occasion where Arsene Wenger suffered a defeat at the hands of his North London rivals.