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North London derby

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North London derby

Other names
Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur

Arsenal Tottenham Hotspur

First meeting
Arsenal 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur 1909–10 Football League (4 December 1909)

Latest meeting
Arsenal 1–1 Tottenham Hotspur Premier League (6 November 2016)

Next meeting
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal Premier League (29 April 2017)

The North London derby is the name of the association football local derby between two north London based teams – Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Both Arsenal and Tottenham fans have recognised each other as one of their biggest rivals and the derby is one of the fiercest in English football.


Arsenal play their home games at the Emirates Stadium in Islington, while Tottenham Hotspur play their home games at White Hart Lane in Haringey. However, the latter will play its UEFA Champions League home games at Wembley Stadium for the 2016/17 campaign.


The first meeting between the two teams was a friendly on 19 November 1887, when Arsenal were located in Plumstead (then part of Kent but now in Greater London), and known as Royal Arsenal. The match was abandoned 15 minutes before it was due to end "owing to darkness" with Spurs leading 2–1. The first League match between the clubs was in the First Division, on 4 December 1909; Arsenal won 1–0.

However, a proper rivalry between the two teams did not begin until 1913, when Arsenal moved from the Manor Ground, Plumstead to Arsenal Stadium, Highbury, just four miles from Tottenham's White Hart Lane; by doing so, they became Tottenham's nearest neighbours and thus began a natural local rivalry. The two teams first faced each other as "north London" in a War Relief Fund friendly on 22 August 1914 at White Hart Lane. Although Arsenal were in the Second Division and Tottenham in the First, Arsenal won 5–1. They would go on to meet regularly during World War I in the London Combination, the regional wartime competition of the time.

The rivalry escalated in 1919 when, after World War I, the First Division was to be expanded by two teams, and the League held a meeting of the clubs to decide the two clubs by means of a vote. 19th-placed Chelsea, who would otherwise have been relegated, were allowed to stay and thus they took the first of the two spots. The second spot could have been awarded to 20th-placed Tottenham, or Barnsley, who had finished third in the Second Division, but Arsenal (along with four other clubs) also bid for the place, despite their only finishing sixth in Division Two, although an error in the calculation of goal average meant Arsenal had actually finished fifth, an error which was corrected by the Football League in 1980.

After an endorsement by League president and chairman of Liverpool John McKenna on account of their longer membership of the League, Arsenal won the vote by eighteen votes to Spurs' eight (Barnsley got five, Wolves four, Nottingham Forest three, Birmingham two and Hull City one) and were thus elected to the First Division. It has been frequently alleged that Arsenal chairman Sir Henry Norris used underhand dealings in order to bring this about, although nothing has been proven. The decision infuriated Tottenham and their supporters, although eleven years previously, Tottenham themselves had been elected to join the Football League Second Division despite only finishing 7th in the 1907–08 Southern League, at the expense of Southern League champions Queen's Park Rangers, who had also applied and had resigned from the Southern League in expectation of promotion.

Despite the setback, Tottenham were soon promoted back into the top flight after taking the 1919–20 Second Division title, and the derby was once again regularly contested. The first fully competitive derby match after Arsenal's 1913 move to north London was a First Division match that finished 2–1 to Tottenham, on 15 January 1921 at White Hart Lane. The early matches between the two were noted for their bitterness - a particularly vicious match in September 1922 led to both clubs being censured by the Football Association and threatened with being forced to play behind closed doors.

Tottenham played in the Second Division between 1928 and 1933, and 1935 and 1950, which naturally led to a drop in the number of matches between the two clubs in this period and a cooling of passions. Relations between the two clubs improved somewhat after the Second World War, after Tottenham allowed Arsenal to play their home matches at White Hart Lane while Highbury was requisitioned as an ARP station and subsequently bombed. The two sides met in the FA Cup for the first time in the 1948–49 season, when Arsenal won a third round tie 3–0.

Since 1950, there has only been one season being that of (1977–78) where Spurs and Arsenal have not been in the same division, meaning fixtures between the two are regular. With being so, this has maintained the rivalry to the present day; there have been many notable matches. Several of these comprise those where the course of a title or the journey to a cup final has relied upon the outcome of a derby match. As with any major football rivalry, gloating and banter between the two sets of fans, many of whom work and even live together, is commonplace. Players who transfer between the two teams receive a bad reception from their former fans; an example was defender Sol Campbell, who was nicknamed "Judas" by Spurs fans after he crossed the divide in 2001.

Arsenal fans have a celebration day related to the north London rivalry. Arsenal fans celebrate St. Totteringham's day, which is the day in the season when Tottenham cannot mathematically finish above Arsenal on the league table. Spurs fans had long before declared 14 April to be St. Hotspur day in honour of Spurs' 3–1 win over Arsenal in the 1991 FA Cup semi final. St. Hotspur Day was also celebrated on 14 April 2010, when Spurs beat Arsenal 2–1.


Both Spurs' and Arsenal's fan bases are multi-ethnic, due to the racial diversity in London. According to a report in 2002, Arsenal had 7.7% of their fans calling themselves non-white British, the highest in the league at the time. Both clubs also have extensive fan bases throughout the UK and the rest of the world. Arsenal fans call themselves "Gooners" - a reworking of the club's "Gunners" nickname (itself a reference to Arsenal's origins as a munitions factory team). Spurs fans call themselves "yids" - a reference to the fact that, because of the large Jewish community in the vicinity of their ground, hooligans of many other clubs back in the 1970s and 1980s directed antisemitic chants at Spurs fans. In an attempt to draw the sting from these chants, Spurs fans (whether Jewish or not) adopted the words "yid" and "yiddo" for themselves and thereby turned a pejorative into a term of pride and belonging. With the passing of time and as a consequence of the ever-mutating nature of the English language, the words "yid" and "yiddo" now only ever mean "Spurs fan" (or player) when used in the context of English football – even by fans of other teams. There is, however, still some controversy over the use of "yid" or "yiddo".

Premier League

Fixture top scorers in the Premier League

Players in BOLD represent those who are currently playing for Arsenal or Tottenham.

Cup semi-finals and title deciders

Although Arsenal and Tottenham have never met in a major cup final, there have been North London derby matches that have significantly contributed to one of the two clubs winning a trophy, such as semi-finals and title deciders. These include:

  • Tottenham 0–1 Arsenal (3 May 1971) The final match of the 1970–71 league campaign, with Arsenal needing a win or a goalless draw to take the First Division title (a score draw would have meant Leeds United won on goal average). The game was tight with few real chances on goal, until the very end. With three minutes to go, John Radford's shot forced Pat Jennings into a good save; George Armstrong got to the rebound and chipped the ball across goal and Ray Kennedy headed home the winner. Spurs desperately tried to get a goal back but to no avail; Arsenal held on to win the title (the first half of the Double that season).
  • Tottenham 1–2 Arsenal (4 March 1987) Arsenal and Spurs had drawn 2–2 on aggregate in the League Cup semi-finals; with no away goals rule in force, the match was replayed at Spurs' home ground of White Hart Lane. Spurs went 1–0 up through Clive Allen but Arsenal substitute Ian Allinson equalised and David Rocastle scrambled home the winner to send Arsenal through to the Final, where they won their first trophy since 1979.
  • Tottenham 3–1 Arsenal (14 April 1991 at Wembley) – The first FA Cup semi-final between the two sides. Arsenal were chasing a second Double, but Tottenham's Paul Gascoigne scored after just five minutes with a free kick from 30 yards out. Gary Lineker made it two, and although Alan Smith pulled one back for the Gunners before half-time, Lineker scored again in the second half to seal the result. Arsenal's Double dream was dashed, though they still won the League that season; Spurs lifted the Cup a month later. Known as St Hotspur Day for Tottenham fans.
  • Arsenal 1–0 Tottenham (4 April 1993 at Wembley) The second FA Cup semi-final between the two, in which Arsenal sought revenge over their North London rivals for the 3–1 semi-final defeat two years earlier. Tony Adams scored with a header from a Paul Merson free kick for the Gunners in the 79th minute; Arsenal prevailed despite Lee Dixon's sending-off, and went on to win the FA Cup in May and complete the first ever domestic cup double.
  • Arsenal 2–1 Tottenham (8 April 2001 at Old Trafford) The third FA Cup semi-final between the two. Gary Doherty gave Spurs the lead, before Patrick Vieira equalised for Arsenal. Robert Pirès scored a second half winner to send Arsenal through to the first FA Cup final to be played outside England, where they lost 2–1 to Liverpool in Cardiff.
  • Tottenham 2–2 Arsenal (25 April 2004) Arsenal were unbeaten in the Premier League and only needed a point to secure the title. The Gunners were 2–0 up after 35 minutes thanks to Patrick Vieira and Robert Pirès' goals. A famous win looked to be on the cards, but Spurs restored some pride by denying Arsenal victory; in the second half Jamie Redknapp scored from long-range, then Robbie Keane converted a 90th-minute penalty. Nevertheless, Arsenal still won the title at their rivals' home ground, repeating their triumph of 1971.
  • Arsenal 3–1 Tottenham a.e.t (31 January 2007) Arsenal booked their place in the 2007 League Cup Final, for the first time since winning the competition in 1993, after this extra-time victory. The teams drew the first leg 2–2 at White Hart Lane where Tottenham threw away a 2–0 first half lead, eventually drawing the game. The return leg game was goalless until the 77th minute when Emmanuel Adebayor gave Arsenal the lead, before Mido equalised for Tottenham five minutes from time. Jérémie Aliadière restored Arsenal's lead in the 105th minute and the game was eventually won by Arsenal after a 113th minute own goal by Tottenham's Pascal Chimbonda, sending Arsenal through to the final, 5–3 on aggregate. Arsenal, however, would eventually lose the final to Chelsea.
  • Tottenham 5–1 Arsenal (22 January 2008) Tottenham's first victory over Arsenal since November 1999, in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final; the teams had drawn 1–1 at the Emirates Stadium. Tottenham were 2–0 up by half time with Jermaine Jenas' strike and a Nicklas Bendtner own goal. After half-time, Spurs added two more from Robbie Keane and Aaron Lennon; Emmanuel Adebayor pulled one back for Arsenal, before Steed Malbranque scored a fifth goal in injury time to put Tottenham into the 2008 League Cup Final, 6–2 on aggregate. Spurs went on to lift the trophy.
  • Statistics and records

    As of 1 October 2009, there have been 163 competitive first-class meetings between the two teams since the first league meeting in 1909, of which Arsenal have won 67 and Tottenham 50. The most goals in one game were scored in the closely contested 5–4 Arsenal Premiership victory at White Hart Lane on 13 November 2004. The biggest winning margin was a 8–0 away win by Arsenal on 6 March 1935. Tottenham have twice won 5–0 (25 December 1911 and 4 April 1983) and Arsenal once (23 December 1978), all three fixtures taking place at White Hart Lane.

    Tottenham's record for goals scored against Arsenal is shared by Billy Minter and Bobby Smith, with nine goals each. Arsenal's record is held jointly by Emmanuel Adebayor, Alan Sunderland and Robert Pirès, with eight goals each. Adebayor also holds the record for most goals by a player in the North London derby with ten: eight scored for Arsenal and two for Tottenham. Arsenal's long-time defender David O'Leary holds the record for most North London derbies played with 35, while Gary Mabbutt and Steve Perryman shared the corresponding record for Spurs, with 31.

    Terry Dyson is the only Spurs player to score a hat-trick in a first-class derby game, having done so on 26 August 1961 in a 4–3 win for Spurs. The Arsenal players to have done so are Ted Drake (20 October 1934) and Alan Sunderland (23 December 1978).

    Summary of results

    As of 5 March 2016

    Crossing the divide

    Due to the rivalry between the clubs, relatively few players have played for both Arsenal and Spurs since 1913. The players who have played for both are listed below.

    Arsenal, then Tottenham

    Former Arsenal winger Joe Hulme managed Tottenham Hotspur between 1945 and 1949. George Graham was firstly an Arsenal player, then managed the Gunners between 1986 and 1994, before later taking up the reins at White Hart Lane between 1998 and 2001.

    Clive Allen played three matches in Arsenal's 1980–81 pre-season friendly campaign, although never played a competitive league match for them.

    Jamie O'Hara was a youth player at Arsenal before joining Tottenham. However, he did not play a single game for Arsenal.

    Lee Butcher was a youth player at Arsenal, then joined Tottenham and played many games in the reserves before moving to his current team, fellow London club Leyton Orient.

    Ron Piper was an amateur at Arsenal without playing a senior match before joining Tottenham in October 1960.

    Harry Kane joined the Arsenal youth academy when he was eight years old, and was released after one season.

    Tottenham, then Arsenal

    In addition, former Spurs player Herbert Chapman subsequently became manager of Arsenal from 1925 to 1934. While ex-Gooner Terry Neill was Spurs manager between 1974 and 1976, before crossing back to manage Arsenal between 1976 and 1983.

    Played for both teams in North London derby

    The following players have played in at least one North London derby for both teams:

    Clubs' honours

    These are the major football honours of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur:

    In its present format, Arsenal have, as of 2016–17, qualified to play in the UEFA Champions League on 19 occasions and Tottenham twice, although Spurs did achieve a fourth-place finish in the 2011–12 Premier League season but were denied a place in the Champions League due to Chelsea winning the Champions League. Arsenal were runners-up in the 2005–06 UEFA Champions League competition. Prior to this, Arsenal qualified for the former European Cup on three occasions, while Tottenham did so once. Arsenal were unable to compete in the 1989–90 competition owing to a ban on English clubs following the Heysel Stadium Disaster. Both clubs have reached the semi-final stage of the competition.

    # While the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup is recognised as the predecessor to the UEFA Cup, it was not organised by UEFA. Consequently, UEFA do not consider clubs' records in the Fairs Cup to be part of their European record.

    Highest attendances

  • Tottenham 3–1 Arsenal; 77,893 (14 April 1991); Wembley (neutral)
  • Tottenham 1–4 Arsenal; 69,821 (10 October 1953); White Hart Lane (Tottenham home)
  • Arsenal 1–1 Tottenham; 72,164 (29 September 1951), Highbury (Arsenal home)
  • Arsenal 3–0 Tottenham; 60,115 (2 December 2006), Emirates Stadium (in Emirates Stadium)
  • References

    North London derby Wikipedia

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