Although Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal have played each other 150 times in the past, this weekend’s game has a special significance with the Premier League title potentially on the line. Ahead of Saturday’s derby, TheHardTackle takes a look back at some of the best encounters between the two sides over the years.
Competing for the title in the second half of the season is an unfamiliar prospect for both teams. Tottenham have never won the title in the Premier League era while the Gunners have not won the trophy for over a decade now. Both Mauricio Pochettino and Arsene Wenger will be aware of the importance of this match with regards to their chances of lifting the trophy come May.
However, even though their previous clashes have not had as much at stake as this one, the North London derby has always been a feisty, entertaining affair. TheHardTackle takes a look back at some of the best clashes between the two sides in recent times.
Arsenal 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur (May, 1993)
No Spurs fan would ever let a Gunner forget about the one time when Tottenham completed the double over Arsenal in the Premier League. This was, in fact, the first ever Premier League season, when both sides were trying to keep themselves in the top half of the table.
While Arsenal (9th) were a couple of spots above Tottenham (11th) at the time of this match, the two teams happened to be level on points with the Gunners leading on goal difference. However, Arsenal decided to field almost a second-string squad, as they had a Wembley date with Sheffield Wednesday in the final of the FA Cup.
A first-half strike from Teddy Sheringham and a brace from John Hendry gave Spurs a memorable victory over Arsenal in this match.
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Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur (November, 1996)
This was Arsene Wenger’s first North London derby, and the Frenchman was just about a month into his job as the manager at the club. However, Arsenal were already starting to show signs of the free-flowing football that Wenger has come to be associated with over the years.
Ian Wright opened the scoring as he slammed in a penalty that was earned by his Dutch strike partner Dennis Bergkamp. This was, in fact, Wright’s 160th goal for Arsenal. Andy Sinton soon cancelled out Arsenal’s lead with a deflected strike of his own. The Gunners left it till late, as captain Tony Adams soared upfield and scored a left-footed volley into the top corner of the Tottenham goal in the 88th minute. Adams’ goal was also set up by a sublime touch provided by Bergkamp.
The Dutchman completed a memorable derby performance by finally getting himself on the scoresheet soon after the Gunners’ second, as he masterfully controlled an aerial ball from Wright and slotted it into the Spurs goal.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Arsenal (April, 2004)
This was the moment in history that no Arsenal fan would forget; the Gunners completed their 49 game unbeaten run in the 2003/04 season with this thrilling draw at White Hart Lane. What made it even more special was the fact that they won the Premier League title at the home ground of their arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Arsenal started off in sublime form with Thierry Henry initiating a swift counter attack, which was ultimately finished off by captain Patrick Viera. The Frenchman brilliantly combined with Bergkamp in the first half again to put Viera through on goal. The Arsenal captain squared it across the goal to Pires this time, and the Spaniard doubled their lead.
Although Tottenham came back to level the scores in the end with goals from Jamie Redknapp and Robbie Keane, this match will be remembered more fondly by the Gunners’ supporters who started their title celebrations after the full time whistle.
Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham Hotspur (October, 2008)
This was perhaps the most thrilling North London Derby in Premier League history, with enough goals to keep everyone happy. However, one gets the distinct feeling that the Spurs fans would have come out happier as they scored two goals in the last minute to level the scores at 4-4.
David Bentley scored the opening goal with a brilliant volley from the centre circle of the pitch, giving Tottenham a 13th minute lead. That was soon cancelled out by a Mikael Silvestre header, with fellow centre-back William Gallas scoring soon after to give Arsenal the lead.
The top marksmen of the two sides — Emmanuel Adebyor (Arsenal) and Darren Bent (Tottenham) — scored one each for their sides, with Robin van Persie adding another for Arsenal to give them a two-goal lead. However, Tottenham picked themselves up with just one minute to go, as captain Jermaine Jenas and Aaron Lennon scored the last two goals of this eight-goal thriller.
Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur (November, 2012)
A North London derby is rarely without its controversial decisions, and referee Howard Webb was certainly at the centre of it all in this game, as he sent off former Gunners striker Emmanuel Adebayor.
The Togolese forward had given Spurs the lead early on, but was soon sent off for a studs-up tackle on Santi Cazorla. Although replays suggested that the Spaniard might have made the most of the tackle, Adebyor did go in with both his studs in the air, which made a strong case for his sending off.
Down to 10 men, Andre Villas-Boas’s Spurs completely capitulated, as Arsenal went on the rampage. Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, and Santi Cazorla all scored to give the Gunners a massive lead. Although Spurs star Gareth Bale got one back, Theo Walcott restored the three-goal lead as Arsenal won the match 5-2.