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Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur: The North London Derby

Sportco brings you the origins of the prestigious North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, their rivalry, and how the fixture turned into a fierce rivalry. 

History of the North London Derby

The North London derby is associated with games between Arsenal and Tottenham; their rivalry has been existing since 1887, as they played their first match in the aforementioned year, and since then, the derby has seen many tremendous games between Arsenal and Tottenham.

Arsenal vs Tottenham: North London's Fierce Derby & the Premier League's  Most Entertaining | ht_media
source- 90min

The North London derby ignited multiple fans and lured them to watch the matches in the stadium, which made the derby even more high-intense in North London. 

Tottenham and Arsenal played their first game in 1887; however, the game was friendly at Spur's home. But the match was called off due to "owing to darkness" with Spurs leading 2-1.  

The derby has witnessed many grim games ever since, and some moments have been horrific while some were amusing. 

The beginning of the rivalry  

The first official game was contested in 1913 when Arsenal changed their home ground from Manor ground, Plumstead, to Arsenal Stadium, Highbury. 

Four miles away from Tottenham's stadium White Hart Lane, the change led to many misunderstandings as Tottenham protested and said they considered Highbury their territory. 

Henceforth, this was the starting of their rivalry, and both the teams confronted each other in a War Relief Fund friendly on 22 August 1914 at White Hart Lane, and Arsenal eventually won the game 5-1. The rivalry became popular during World War I, as both the team will face each other in the London Combination in the regional wartime competition. 

How Arsenal were voted into the top flight over Tottenham in 1919 |  Football News | Sky Sports
source- sky sports

Slowly the rivalry drew people in North London, and it escalated in 1919. After World War I, the league expanded, which meant more teams would compete. 

There were few quarrels as many divisions were made and Tottenham were placed in division two after the voting, Arsenal won the vote by eighteen votes to Spurs' eight (Barnsley got five, Wolves four, Nottingham Forest three, Birmingham two and Hull City one), this result meant these clubs would play in the first division. 

However, Tottenham alleged that Arsenal chairman Sir Henry Norris used underhand dealings to keep the club in 1st division, although it proved to be false allegations and Tottenham was put in 2nd division. 

Ultimately, they won the 2nd division and were promoted to 1st division. Ever since the derby started being played frequently, both the North London clubs have shared some intense memories; one such incident was when the 1922 match was played behind closed doors, as the Football Association censured both clubs.

The 1990s meant Tottenham would remain in Second Division during 1928 and 1933, 1935 to 1950, which caused a drop in the number of games and fewer incidents. 

Season 1977-78 was the only time both the clubs were not in the same division, post that they maintained the rivalry to the present day, and there have been many distinguished games. 

Sol Campbell has donned the jersey of both Tottenham and Arsenal
Image credits: getty images

The players changed clubs during transfer between the two teams and were whistled. One of them was Sol Campbell, who joined the Gunners and was named "Judas" by Tottenham fans in 2001. 

Some notable games in the North London derby     

Year Results Event 
1935Tottenham 0-5 ArsenalPremier League 
1948Arsenal 3-0 Tottenham FA Cup
1983Tottenham 5-0 ArsenalPremier League
2004 Tottenham 4-5 ArsenalPremier League
2008Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham Premier League  
2012Arsenal 5-2 TottenhamPremier League

Top scorers in the North London derby

Arsenal has been dominating the top-scorer list in the north London derbies since the inception of rivalry. Bobby Smith and Emmanuel Adebayor scored 10 against Tottenham.

Although Harry Kane soon broke their record netting 11 goals against Gunners overtaking Bobby Smith and Emmanuel Adebayor's 10 goals record. 

Arsenal vs Tottenham: All-Time Head-to-Head Record in North London Derbies  

StatsArsenal Tottenham
Games 189189
Wins 7860
Draws 5151
Goals scored  287251

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