The North London derby is known to be one of the most fiercely contested local derbies in the footballing world. It usually carries more hate than the likes of Tyne-Wear derby and the Merseyside derby and most of it emanates from the Tottenham side of it, because Arsenal were the side to make an immigration to North London from South London and the Gunners’ further promotion into the first division, with Spurs suffering unfair relegation to the Second Division back in 1919 is another reason for Spurs’ anguish.
There have been 180 meetings in total, and Arsenal have won a majority of them. But there have been numerous North London derbies in this century that have been tantalizingly close. So, here are five of the best North London derbies that have been contested between the two of the biggest clubs of England, who are undoubted members of the Premier League’s top six.
5. Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal 2010
This happened to be Spurs’ first home win against their bitter rivals since 1999, which is actually 11 years.
It was a must-win game for both sides- Spurs needed all 3 points for being on track for sealing their first ever Champions League place, with their next game against Chelsea up next, while Arsenal desired to keep their slipping title hopes alive.
This game is also famous for Danny Rose’s screamer early on in the game when Arsenal cleared a corner rather poorly. Gareth Bale’s showed flickers of his future talent with a lovely solo effort. Stopper Heurelho Gomes role was just as vital, as the current Watford man kept the Gunners at bay throughout the game.
4. Tottenham 5-1 Arsenal, League Cup 2008
Look away Gooners, your side were completely destroyed in this outing at the Lane. And it was a vital game too, with this being the second leg of the League Cup semi-final.
This was Tottenham’s biggest win over their London rivals in 25 years and Wenger’s only second loss to them since he began to adventure at the Emirates in 1996.
Spurs were 2-0 up at half time, thanks to a goal from Jermaine Jenas and a Nicklas Bentdner own goal. Both Aaron Lennon and Robbie Keane quadrupled the Lilywhites’ lead before Emmanuel Adebayor pulled one back for Arsenal from somewhere.
Steed Malbranque scored the fifth, to round off a five-star performance against their old rivals.
3. Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham, 2012
Look back here Gooners because this win was the one which clearly made this loud and clear- Arsenal are a bigger club in North London, after Spurs had a ten point lead over Arsenal in the table and were sitting pretty at 3rd. This was a point which made Spurs fans feel that it could be the season when Spurs finished above Arsenal. But it wasn’t to be.
The commencement suggested that Spurs may emerge on top but after Louis Saha scored and Emmanuel Adebayor doubled the advantage, Arsenal tore Redknapp’s men to shreds.
Right back Bacary Sagna reduced the advantage and Robin van Persie’s strike allowed Arsenal to go level before half time. Czech Republic midfielder Tomas Rosicky handed Arsenal the lead after half time, and a quick-fire double from Theo Walcott made it five for the day.
As frustration piled on for Spurs, Scott Parker was sent off, rubbing salt on the wound.
2. Tottenham 4-5 Arsenal, 2004
One of the most pulsating encounters ever in North London derby history, this clash took place at White Hart Lane and was one hell of a see-saw encounter.
Defender Nourredine Naybet gave Spurs a lead before Thierry Henry equalized for the Gunners in first half stoppage time. Lauren’s spot kick made sure that Arsenal went in front in the 53rd minute. 7 minutes later, Patrick Viera scored the third. Jermaine Defoe’s strike minutes later gave Spurs hope, but they were extinguished as Freddie Ljunberg brought the lead back to 2. Ledley King’s thumping header gave Arsenal something to think about again as the score read 4-3.
French winger Robert Pires made it 5-3, as Freddie Kanoute pulled one back late, but it went in vain.
1. Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham, 2008
Arguably the best North London derbies one is ever likely to come across, this game was fought at a knife’s edge and was as close as it can actually get. And rightly so, it yielded a draw as the defenses of both sides conceded four each, which no one would’ve expected.
David Bentley, who has played for both Arsenal and Spurs, opening the scoring with a stunning strike which has gone down as among the best goals in this fixture. Former Manchester United veteran defender Mikael Silvestre equalized at the stroke of half time. Another player who has featured from both sides in the past-William Gallas gave Arsenal the lead and Emmanuel Adebayor doubled the lead minute later.
Before Robin van Persie could add the fourth, Spurs added another way to get back on level term with Darren Bent’s goal. As the scoreline read 4-2, and Spurs looked for a way to get back into the contest, a ray of hope came when Jermaine Jenas made it 4-3 in the 89th minute. As dramatic as it could get, Aaron Lennon’s tap in ended up making the contest one of the greatest North London derbies the world has ever witnessed.
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