North London Derby: History behind London’s biggest rivalry
It’s never a dull game when these two match up.
Arsenal and Tottenham both stake claim to being the biggest club in North London, but only one can truly be the best.
The North London Derby is one of the most anticipated matchups every season, with a fierce contest guaranteed every time.
The two sides will face off for the first time this season on Sunday at the Emirates, so ahead of the game, we’re taking a look at the history of the North London Derby.
North London Derby: Quick history lesson
The North London Derby fixture was first played in 1887, when the two sides met in a friendly; however, the rivalry didn’t properly begin until Arsenal moved to North London in 1913.
Arsenal’s home stadium is the Emirates and is situated in Islington. Spurs’ new stadium, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, replaced their previous stadium, White Hart Lane, but was built on the same location, so they still occupy the borough of Haringey. It is just four miles between the two stadiums.
While there are many more teams based in London, both sides consider the other to be their biggest rival.
There have been a few instances of players playing for both sides at points in their career. William Gallas, Sol Campbell, Pat Jennings, and Jimmy Robertson just to name a few.
But none may be more infamous than Emmanuel Adebayor, who played for Arsenal from 2006-2009, then Tottenham from 2011-2015.
Adebayor left Arsenal for Manchester City in 2009, and in their first matchup against one another, he scored a goal and produced one of the most iconic yet controversial celebrations in Premier League history, running the length of the pitch to where the Arsenal fans were to knee slide and celebrate in front of them.
There was no reason for it. There was no knowledge of any bad blood between himself and his former club at the time. He just did it.
North London Derby: All-time results
Arsenal and Tottenham have faced off 193, with Arsenal getting the better of Spurs more times than the reverse.
Arsenal have won 81 times, while Spurs has 63 wins, with 51 draws rounding it out. The Gunners also have the largest victory of all time, beating Spurs 6-0 at White Hart Lane back in 1935.
These games have taken place across multiple competitions, including the Premier League (obviously), First Division, FA Cup and League Cup.
While they have never met in a cup final, they have played out numerous semi-final classics, the most recent one being in January 2008 when Tottenham won 5-1 in the second leg to win in the semi-final of the League Cup, which they would go on to lift that year.
But Arsenal have achieved the greatest accomplishment in the club's eyes by securing the league title with a result at Spurs’ own home ground.
They did it in 2004 during their Invincible campaign, so not only did Spurs have to watch on as their biggest rivals lifted the Premier League title at their own stadium, they did so having to play and watch a team achieve a feat that most likely will never be matched.
What’s more, it wasn’t the first time they’d done it. Back in 1971 on the final game of the season, Arsenal needed a win or a goalless draw to win the title. They decided to really toy with their rivals, leaving just three minutes left in the game to score the winner to take the title.
North London Derby: Stats
David O’Leary (Arsenal)
Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Wembley Stadium, Tottenham vs Arsenal, 10th Feb 2018*
Most goals in a game
Arsenal 5-4 Tottenham
*This was during the two seasons that Tottenham played their home games at Wembley Stadium whilst their new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was being constructed.
North London Derby: Last five results
Arsenal has dominated the last five meetings between the two in the Premier League, winning four times to Spurs’ one.
They also boast an aggregate score in that time of 10 goals to Tottenham’s six.
- 15th January 2023 – Tottenham 0-2 Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
- 1st October 2022 – Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham, Emirates Stadium
- 12th May 2022 – Tottenham 3-0 Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
- 26th September 2021 – Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham, Emirates Stadium
- 14th March 2021 – Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham, Emirates Stadium
North London Derby: Prediction
Last season saw a big gap between the two teams. Arsenal were pushing for the league title while Spurs were struggling to get a European spot. They didn’t in the end, but at least they didn’t have to witness their rivals lifting another league title.
This year, though, they both look like very equally matched opponents. Arsenal have improved their squad with the likes of Declan Rice now donning the midfield instead of Granit Xhaka.
Tottenham may have lost their star man and the fixture's top scorer Harry Kane, but under the new guidance of Ange Postecoglou, they really seem to have things sorted. The addition on James Maddison has been a really good one already, too.
To be quite honest, this is a tough one to call. There isn’t really a home advantage either for Arsenal as both sides have shown to be capable of upsetting the onlooking home fans on the day.
The only certainty we can predict is that it will be a fiery contest filled with goals and more than likely cards.
If we have to be pushed for a result, we’re going to go with a surprise 3-2 win for Tottenham.
North London Derby: How to watch
Arsenal vs Tottenham is on at 2pm this Sunday, 24th September. As it is a Super Sunday game, it will be shown live exclusively on Sky Sports.
If you’re not already signed up, be sure to check out our Sky Sports deals to get yourself set up in time for the game.