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Top 10 North London Derbies

Sunday’s two big Premier League matches make for extremely exciting reading – Manchester United host Liverpool, before Arsenal make the short journey to White Hart Lane, to face Spurs.

The North London derby has provided some memorable moments in the Premier League era, particularly over the last decade. Here are ten of the best Premier League meetings between the sides…

Tottenham 0-1 Arsenal, 1993/94

The early Premier League meetings between Arsenal and Spurs were tense, tight and extremely scrappy – old-fashioned derbies. Throughout the mid-1990s, often one goal was enough to win the game.

This was a classic example – Spurs had the upper hand throughout a relatively forgettable match, forcing a couple of fine saves from Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman. But it came down to set-pieces, and George Graham’s Arsenal excelled in that respect. Ian Wright nodded in just three minutes from time, and sprinted to the opposite end of the pitch to celebrate with Seaman.

Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham, 1996/97

Another scrappy game, another late Arsenal victory. The scoreline alone suggests Arsene Wenger’s first North London derby was an open, entertaining game, but Ian Wright’s opener came from a penalty, and Andy Sinton’s equaliser was a fortunate strike that hit the post, then deflected in off John Lukic’s back.

But Tony Adams stormed forward from the back to win the game in the dying minutes, with a superb volley after Dennis Bergkamp’s clever flick. The Dutchman added a fine second in injury time to confirm the victory.

Tottenham 1-1 Arsenal, 2001/02

We’re still in the era of low quality derbies, and this game was rather dull. Robert Pires opened the scoring with a long-ranger that Neil Sullivan fumbled in, before Gustavo Poyet snatched a last-minute equaliser.

However, this game was significant for the return of Sol Campbell to White Hart Lane, following his controversial transfer that summer. In his recent autobiography, Campbell recounts how, when glancing over to the Spurs fans behind the goal giving him abuse, he saw his brother in amongst them – the two have barely spoken since.

Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal, 2003/04

In any ordinary circumstances, this would have been something of an embarrassment for Arsenal – Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires gave them a comfortable two-nil lead, but they threw away the three points by conceding from a Jamie Redknapp long-ranger, before one of Jens Lehmann’s eccentric moments resulted in him unnecessarily conceding a penalty kick while defending a corner. Robbie Keane converted.

A point was good enough for Arsenal to win the league, however, and they spent the rest of the campaign preserving their unbeaten record. Vieira’s opener summed up Arsenal’s brilliant counter-attacking throughout that season.

Tottenham 4-5 Arsenal, 2004/05

A bonkers game, featuring nine goals from nine separate scorers. This match marked the end of the dreary, scrappy era of North London derbies, and showed that these matches could be about goals, goals, goals.

Neither side had control at any point, with chances at both ends throughout – the fact the likes of Noe Pamarot, Erik Edman and Pascal Cygan were playing was probably a contributing factor. Jose Mourinho famously mocked both sides’ defensive ability after this game, calling 4-5 a ‘hockey score’, and claiming that if his side defended like that in training, he’d send them back to the dressing room.

Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham, 2008/09

A decent attempt to replicate the aforementioned game: eight goals, eight goalscorers. This match genuinely had drama from beginning to end, with David Bentley’s amazing 40-yard lob opening the scoring for Spurs, Arsenal fighting back to lead 4-2, but then collapsing in the final two minutes, conceding to both Jermaine Jenas and Aaron Lennon.

Arsenal had enjoyed dominance in these derbies over the last six or seven years, but this fightback suggested Spurs were more capable of causing Wenger’s side problems.

Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham 2010/11

This match produced one of the most remarkable turnarounds in recent Premier League history. Arsenal were 2-0 up at the break, with goals from Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh, and seemingly had little to worry about.

Harry Redknapp changed his shape at half-time, putting on Jermain Defoe for Aaron Lennon and moving to a 4-4-2 formation. Arsenal couldn’t cope, and Gareth Bale immediately pulled a goal back.

Spurs were all over Arsenal throughout the second half, with Rafael van der Vaart scoring from the spot, and Younes Kaboul heading in from a free-kick with five minutes to go, sealing Spurs’ first Emirates victory.

Tottenham 3-3 Arsenal, 2010/11

A superb season of North London derbies was completed with this second meeting, which confirmed the end of Arsenal’s title charge. The Gunners were 3-1 up at one stage, but Tom Huddlestone’s goal on the stroke of half-time galvanised Spurs, and they fought back to complete the comeback through Rafael van der Vaart.

It left Arsenal out of the title race, and they never recovered from this defeat – they won only one of their final five matches of the season, and were overtaken by Manchester City for third place.

Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham, 2011/12

This was the first of two consecutive 5-2 scorelines between the sides at the Emirates – but this, the first, was more entertaining (the second was effectively decided by half-time because of Emmanuel Adebayor’s red card and Arsenal’s 3-1 lead).

It saw Spurs going 2-0 up through Emmanuel Adebayor and Louis Saha, but Arsenal somehow scored five goals within the space of half an hour, with Theo Walcott rounding off the victory with two fine finishes. Having blown two-goal leads against Tottenham twice within the previous 18 months, it was a much-needed turnaround.

Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal, 2012/13

A crazily open game with both sides playing extraordinarily high defensive lines, and Spurs triumphing because they took advantage of these situations more effectively – Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon both sprinted in behind to put Spurs 2-0 up at half-time.

Following the game, Spurs were seven points ahead of Arsenal and Andre Villas-Boas said Arsenal were in a ‘negative spiral’ – but Wenger used this game to reformat his defence, refocus his side, and Arsenal finished ahead of Spurs to pinch the final Champions League place again.

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March 12th, 2014 by Michael Cox

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