The North London Derby is a hotly contested game that has tightened in recent years. Both teams are fairly evenly matched and with Champions League contention potentially hinging on the outcomes of the match ups, they can devolve into very stingy affairs. Which isn’t what fans want, they want goals. Lots of them. And for a few games, goals is what they got. Usually seven of them in matches that fell to the Red side of North London.
With that in mind, here is The Short Fuse’s lists of the best 5-2 games in the North London Derby:
Arsenal 5 - 2 Tottenham Hotspur, 26 February 2012
Spurs were making a lot of noise in 2011-2012. Sitting in the top three for much of the season, they were set, in their minds, to not only trounce their bitterest rivals but also mount a challenge on the Premier League Title. Everything was coming up Lily White.
The game started out likewise, with a shocking 4th minute opener from Louis Saha. Tottenham then doubled their advantage with a penalty won by Gareth “I don’t dive” Bale and calmly taken from the rapidly falling star Emmanuel Adebayor. It all looked dark for The Gunners. Until a late first half lighting pair of strikes from Bacary Sagna and Robin Van Persie saw Arsenal into the half even with the visitors.
The second half would be a harbinger of the last stage of Tottenham’s season. Arsenal poured on the early pressure and got a go-ahead goal from Tomas Rosicky and a brace from Theo Walcott. A late game red card to Scott “forgot about him” Parker sealed their fate. Arsenal waltzed to a massive victory that exposed cracks in Spurs supposed ascendency. From being 10 points up on Arsenal before the game, they’d go on to win only four more games that year and finish a point behind Arsenal in standings. Thought still a respectable fourth.
Then Chelsea won the Champions League and took that away from them, too. How Spursy.
Tottenham Hotspur 0 - 5 Arsenal, 23 December 1978*
OK, so you’re already throwing your arms up in the air and asking what gives? This is supposed to be about 5-2 games and this one clearly was a solid 5-0 thumping at White Hart Lane, and an utter embarrassment to boot. Well, a little history lesson is in order.
The 70s were a rough time for Arsenal. Nowhere close to a title, they were clearly slumping along in the league without much to play for. It took its toll on the manger of the time, Terry Niell. The stress was clearly too much that he began taking up competitive backgammon in his spare time, often playing for money and racking up some not insignificant debts. Unfortunately for him, the Spurs manager at the time, Keith Burkinshaw, was quite the dice roller himself. They had a classic face off in late November of 1978 that ended in a Coup Classique for the Spurs man. The game put Niell down £500.
Rather than accept his money, Burkinshaw offered a double down. In their upcoming League match, Arsenal would spot Tottenham two goals unless they chose to not make a single substitution, a risky proposition in the rougher game of the time. Niell accepted.
His team were reportedly outraged that he'd put them in such a hole but managed to rally around their beleaguered manager. Liam Brady and Frank Stapleton both scored before Alan Sunderland added a hat-trick causing the final score to be 5-2. Except, Niell completely misplaced his team sheet so was unable to make any substitutions and letting officials know about the bet would have perhaps not gone over well.
Niell took the game as a sign, one all of you kids should adhere too, that gambling was too risky to continue with and put aside his board. Later in life, he opened some wholesome bars instead. Arsenal ended squeaking 7th place at the seasons end and, building on the positive result against their rivals, won the FA Cup. Tottenham slumped to 11th.
Tottenham Hotspur 4 - 5 Arsenal, 13 November 2004**
This barn burner of a game has been correctly identified as one of the best in Premier League history. A massive back and forth brawl of open play and goals that rather than talk about, you should just watch:
But again, you say mildly disgruntled, the score. Look, you can't tell me Ledley King was ever healthy enough to score a goal. That clearly was an illegal ringer they borrowed from Manchester United. And Nourredine Naybet? Not even a real person. Must have been sunlight relfecting off the gas clouds blurring the refs vision. This game ended 5-2.
Tottenham Hotspur 2- 5 Arsenal, 13 November 2004
Could a player possibly one up his performance in a 5-2 game in less than a calendar year? Step up Adebayor.
Possibly riled up from his previous outing against Arsenal, because for some reason he's always had a bit of a burr in his pants against the fans (which admittedly is fine but you're no Henry no matter how far you run after a goal), Adebayor set out to hurt his former team again. And in 10 minutes, he had his goal and was romping about the pitch with aplomb. Too much aplomb as he committed a full studs up challenge on Santi Cazorla and received his marching orders.
Once again, it was all Arsenal from there on in getting goals from Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott. Thankfully, Gareth Bale added a second for Tottenham later in the game to seal the scoreline, a few months before sealing his record move out of Spurs, which turned out pretty Mesut Ozil for Arsenal.
Once again the teams would battle down the stretch and once again Arsenal would get the better of Spurs, finishing 1 point ahead of them for 4th place in the table. A satisfying time had by all.
So, so Spursy.
This Saturday, both teams will look to add another victory in this long rivalry to their list, Spurs potentially more hungry having lost 3-0 at the Emirates earlier, Arsenal because they have ground to make up on Spurs. However, clearly, one team will be looking for a familiar scoreline... Us. A list of four is really not enough; five feels so much better. With luck, Arsenal's revamped attack will find their feet and put another five goals in the Spurs net and begrudgingly allow them two.
For old times sake.