Football has given birth to the best of rivalries.
These matches are exuberant, fueled with passion and epitomise what makes the beautiful game so special. Whether it be a clash of the Titans in the El Clasico or Oxford vs Swindon on a cold Tuesday night, these eagerly anticipated matches bring a rush of adrenaline to both sets of fans, making for an incredible atmosphere.
On the eve of a potentially pivotal match for the Top 4 race between Arsenal and Spurs, we take a look at three of the fixture’s best clashes, the clashes that define what the North London Derby means for both sets of fans:
Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham (29th October 2008)
New Spurs manager Harry Redknapp was facing his first big test after succeeding Juande Ramos in the dugout. His side certainly produced fireworks in a memorable 90 minutes at the Emirates.
The game began in spectacular fashion, former Gunners midfielder David Bentley stunning the home crowd with a 40-yard volley to give Spurs a 13th-minute lead. Arsenal levelled 24 minutes later though with Mikael Silvestre’s first goal for the club. The sides went into halftime level at 1-1. What followed was one of the most thrilling 45 minutes ever to be seen in this historical fixture…
William Gallas headed in from a Van Persie free-kick to give Arsenal the lead before Emmanuel Adebayor tapped in from close range to strengthen the home side’s grip on the game. Darren Bent drew one back for Spurs from Manuel Alumnia’s fumble but Van Persie restored Arsenal’s two-goal advantage just three minutes later powering his shot past Gomes’ near post. Yet the Lilywhites weren’t finished yet. A curling strike from Jermaine Jenas and a cool finish from Aaron Lennon meant Spurs had levelled the game at 4-4 in the 90th minute. Two goals in two minutes had stolen 3 points from the Gunners.
Certainly a spectacular clash between the London clubs, especially with the context of the game.
Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham (26th February 2012)
The balance of power in North London was being threatened going into this game with Spurs comfortably ahead of the Gunners in the league. But Arsene Wenger’s men ensured North London remained red, despite recent exits from the Champions League and FA Cup.
The visitors began brilliantly with Louis Saha opening the scoring just four minutes in from a deflection. Thirty minutes later, Emmanuel Adebayor converted his penalty to double Spurs’ lead and haunt his former fans. With half-time beckoning, Arsenal flipped the game on its head with Bacary Sagna’s back post header and Van Persie’s extraordinary curling strike three minutes later levelling the scoreline going into halftime.
The Gunners carried through their momentum from the first half and dominated the entirety of the second. 6 minutes after the restart, Tomáš Rosicky tapped in to give the home side the lead. 14 minutes later, the shift in dominance was evident with Theo Walcott scoring 2 goals in 3 minutes to complete an impressive comeback.
This game symbolised the turning point of both teams’ season. Arsenal ended up finishing 3rd whilst Spurs dropped to 4th. A game of both entertainment and significance.
Tottenham 4-5 Arsenal (13th November 2004)
Spurs new manager Martin Jol’s first Premier League game couldn’t have been trickier. Arsenal were unbeaten in all competitions and had one of the greatest teams in the Premier League era. Yet that didn’t stop an incredible 9 goal thriller from taking place.
After a quiet 37 minutes, Nourredine Naybet broke the deadlock with a volley to put the home side ahead, before Thierry Henry put the sides level on the brink of the halftime whistle from Lauren’s superb lofted ball. The second half is what made this arguably the most entertaining North London Derby of all.
A Noe Pamorot foul on Freddy Ljungberg awarded the Gunners a penalty in the 55th minute which Lauren dispatched to give the visitors the lead. Patrick Vieira then doubled their lead 5 minutes later, powering through the Spurs defence to make the score 3-1. Yet unlike their defence, Tottenham’s attack didn’t fold. Jermain Defoe responded just a minute later with a top corner finish to bring the home side back into the game.
More goals followed for both sides. Ljungberg scored in the 69th minute via a fantastic reverse pass from a young Cesc Fabregas, but Ledley King in the 74th brought the difference back to just one goal with a towering header. Robert Pires’ brilliant solo goal in the 81st minute ended up being the game-winner despite Kanoute’s 88th-minute strike, making it incredibly tense last few minutes. Eventually, the final whistle brought the curtains down on a memorable game at White Hart Lane.
If tomorrow’s game is to be anything like these three games above, we’ll be in for a treat. Tweet us your predictions @TasteofFtbl!