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Arsenal Rivalries: The North London Derby

A look back on our favourite Arsenal v Spurs moments.

Thierry Henry of Arsenal

Proximity creates a special kind of dislike. Roommates, neighbours, school teams, cities, countries; relations between two parties all tend to get worse the closer they are. When Arsenal moved from their original grounds south of the Thames to the fabled green of Highbury, a mere four miles from White Hart Lane, it wasn’t so much a loss of elbow room as it was a jab to the ribs. From 1913, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have been true rivals.

Arsenal have had tussles with other clubs, most obviously Manchester United, and other personalities (Jose Mourinho springs to mind), but the north London derbies are always a different level. They aren’t often must wins but they are always want-to-wins. The fans, the teams, hate - HATE - losing to each other. The games are always tense and ready to descend into madness at any moment, and frequently have. It is one of the premier match ups in any given season.

Recent history has made it a little more dire for Spurs. For the past few decades, Arsenal have had the upper hand in the results, standings and trophies. Now that Spurs have ambitions of becoming a title contender, having the Gunners stand in their way constantly is a thorn in the side. There have been many claims that Tottenham are ready to finally match Arsenal, and occasionally they have gotten the better of a season, but it has never truly stuck.

For Arsenal, it is a result that can completely lift or dump a run of form. The victory in 2013 really jolted Arsenal’s season, as did the Flamini brace last year in the League Cup. With the team firing on all cylinders and largely healthy, winning the NLD at home is expected and a loss would be a severe blow. They’ll want this and are in no better place to win it.

With that in mind, here are some of our favourite NLD games/moments:

Rosický, the Spurs Killer.

Tomáš Rosický is an Arsenal urban legend. He arrived in London with a bright future, but injuries severely limited his role in the team. Yet, he earned his beloved status by doing things like this:

It was a tricky kickoff for the 2014 FA Cup, facing Spurs in the 3rd round in January. Turned out pretty well. After Santi Cazorla gave Arsenal the lead, they had let off a little. Tottenham searched for the equalizer, building cautiously from the back. And then Danny Rose met Rosický. Quick feet, faster run. Rosický made them look silly. It would happen again.

The Goal You Didn’t See.

Hallowe’en, 2009. Spurs and Arsenal were deadlocked at the Emirates. Arsenal working on the wings, got the ball to Sagna, who put in a beautiful cross that was poked home by Robin van Persie. It was a wonderful goal. Let’s watch the replays. How about another angle. This is great, I thought watching at home; Arsenal scored. And then it happened again:

For those who missed the game live, jaws hit the floor as the Emirates erupted into even louder celebrations. And then you got to see the goal you missed and your jaw went through the floor. Francesc Fàbregas made half the Spurs team look like pylons in what was arguably the greatest goal of his Arsenal career.

1-0 to the Arsenal, wait what?!

Arsenal’s 2013 got off to an inauspicious start. An opening day loss, the slog of Champions League group stage qualification and all the while sitting on and constantly being reminded of their trophy drought. A lack of major signings felt like the season was already doomed to the same ending. Tottenham, however, had been adding some solid players in the summer (and Soldado) and looked to be a team on the rise, despite the departure of their star Gareth Bale. A Spurs win looked on the books but it happened again. Olivier Giroud’s lovely goal was enough to see Arsenal claim three points.

And then... madness. Real Madrid, after dropping a boatload of money on Bale, sold Mesut Özil to Arsenal at the transfer window close. Now, one cannot truly say Spurs’ sale of a player who wanted out led to Arsenal adding their most influential player over the past three seasons but...well, one probably can.


Winning one game 5-2 is a pretty happy result for any team in the NLD. Arsenal did just that in February of 2012. And then it happened again. Two in a row! The games are both classics of Spurs embarrassment. Our pick is the first for the ever increasing sadness spiral of Harry Redknapp, which then was mimicked by the rest of the team down the standings.

Madness at White Hart Lane

Seven goals not enough? How about nine? In November 2004, Arsenal were reigning champions and still romping along in the league. At home, Spurs decided to join them. The game was sloppy, bizarre and out of control. In other words, boatloads of fun. Everyone scored, the red team won, extending their unbeaten NLD streak to 10 and you really should just see it for yourself.

Clinching the Title.

2003-04 spoiled Arsenal fans rotten. In what would end up with a League Title and undefeated, the way that title was clinched was the cherry on the top of an awesome sundae. They started perfectly, with Patrick Vieira scoring in the third minute. It happened again 32 mintues later as Robert Pires doubled the lead and Arsenal were on their way to the League title in front of the fans who hate them most. To their credit, Spurs battled back to tie the game on a Robbie Keane penalty. Even so, one point was enough and Arsenal celebrated at White Hart Lane, which is something Spurs can’t claim to have recently done.

The Greatest Goal Ever Spurred

Thierry Henry is the greatest Arsenal striker ever. That his best goal came against Spurs, is fitting. Watch:

It’s a statue for a reason. Long forgotten are all the moops he blew past to score it and that the game ended 3-0. Doesn’t really matter, does it?

On Sunday, Arsenal and Spurs lock horns for the first time this season, and it has the makings of a classic once again. Arsenal are in fine form and Spurs have rarely been this talented. But, at the Emirates and with Spurs missing a few players, hard to rule out another 5-2. After a few draws, Arsenal are due. And the Invincibles will remain alone for another season.