The north London derby was once a Premier League side attraction but Tottenham’s transformation from top-four chasers into title contenders has moved their bi-annual clashes with Arsenal to the very forefront of the English game.
Indeed, the Gunners’ meeting with Spurs at 12.30pm on Saturday represents the Premier League’s headline act this weekend, and a fixture that could have a huge impact on the complexion of the top six come the end of the campaign.
But what’s the history of this fixture and can it tell us anything about how the latest instalment on Saturday will pan out? Football FanCast take a look…
Considering Tottenham have finished above Arsenal just once throughout the Premier League era, last season, it’s perhaps no surprise that the Gunners trump their north London rivals in terms of goals scored, wins and games failed to score in from their 50 top flight meetings over the last 25 years.
That being said, the balance of power between the two clubs has clearly changed in recent years; Arsenal haven’t actually beaten Tottenham in the Premier League since 2014, while the Lilywhites have picked up two home victories in that time. Nonetheless, Spurs’ win-rate on Arsenal’s patch stands at just 8% – a huge positive for the home side to take into Saturday’s meet at the Emirates Stadium.
Emmanuel Adebayor is the only player in Premier League history to have scored for Arsenal against Spurs and for Tottenham against the Gunners, his 13 north London derby appearances producing a potent return of eight goals – that includes three strikes during the 2007/08 season alone when Arsene Wenger’s side did the double over their local rivals.
Throughout his Premier League career though, Tottenham was the side winger Robert Pires scored the most times against – nine goals overall and eight in the top flight, the other coming in the 2001 FA Cup semi-final. Tottenham’s best representative, meanwhile, and the only member of the top five goalscorers still plying his trade with either club, is Harry Kane – the new king of the north London derby.
He’s scored six goals in just five Premier League outings versus the Gunners and is yet to lose to them in the top flight.
Tottenham fans may hate to admit it but Sol Campbell is still up there with the greatest centre-backs they’ve ever produced, if not one of the greatest players regardless of position.
Of course, you won’t hear many Spurs supporters giving their former captain that kind of praise after he turned his back on the club to sign for Arsenal on a free transfer in 2001 – one of the most shocking moves in English football’s recent history.
The former England man won’t have too many regrets about leaving the Lilywhites behind though; compared to just one League Cup to show for over 300 Spurs appearances, he lifted two FA Cups and two Premier League titles during his time at Arsenal and was a key part of their much-fabled ‘Invincibles’ side. The commanding centre-half even returned to the Emirates Stadium for a brief spell in 2009/10.
An eight-goal thriller inspired by a combination of some scintillating attacking play and some incredibly questionable goalkeeping.
Perhaps no goal epitomised that blend greater than David Bentley’s opening strike – a spectacular shot from long distance, but one that Manuel Almunia nonetheless turned into his own net. 25 minutes later at the other end, Heurelho Gomes charged off his line at a corner, allowing Mikael Silvestre a free header into an open net.
That was the signal for Arsenal to take control and the home side quickly added to their lead through William Gallas, who would later turn out for Spurs, and Samir Nasri, but Almunia gave the visitors a route back into the match as his parry fell straight into the path of Darren Bent.
The Gunners appeared to have sewn it up when Robin van Persie made it 4-2 upon the 68th minute. But Harry Redknapp’s side, at that time fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table after a disastrous start to the season under Juande Ramos, refused to give up and eventually the comeback came in the final few minutes.
Upon the 89th, Jermain Jenas stepped inside before elegantly curling the ball into the top corner of the net and upon the fourth minute of stoppage time, a Luka Modric piledriver cannoned off the post, straight into the path of Aaron Lennon who prodded home for a last-second equaliser. The shares were spoiled, but for a Spurs side on the cusp of a relegation scrap it felt like a cup-final victory.