When Arsenal drew 2-2 with their north London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, at the Emirates on 24th September, 2023, it was the 63rd meeting between the pair in the Premier League. It was a close game (both sides had 13 shots) and the result left the sides level on 14 points apiece in the table. But which of the north London sides has enjoyed the upper hand in the Premier League era? Hint: it’s not Spurs!
Premier League North London Derbies: Overall Record
Based on the 63 games played between the sides in the Premier League (as of 25th September 2023), it’s clear that Arsenal have been the more successful. But perhaps the Gunners haven’t been quite as dominant as some would have expected given the imbalance in league titles during the Premier League era. After all, Arsenal have been crowned champions three times and finished as runners-up on seven occasions. Whereas Spurs have never won the Premier League and have finished second on just one occasion (2016/17, behind Chelsea).
|24 Wins||24 Draws||15 Wins|
Arsenal have won 38% of the north London derbies in the EPL, with the same percentage having ended in draws and Spurs having triumphed in 24% of the games. The Gunners have scored an average of 1.62 goals per derby game in the Premier League, while Tottenham have mustered an average of just 1.25 goals in this often-heated fixture.
North London derbies are often rather feisty affairs and the clubs are neck and neck when it comes to red cards, with eight apiece. But Spurs lead the way when it comes to bookings, having amassed a total of 144 yellows at a rate of 2.28 per derby match.
Best North London Derby Ever?
There have been some cracking matches between Arsenal and Tottenham over the years in the Premier League. But perhaps the best of the lot took place on 13th November 2004 when Arsenal visited White Hart Lane… and won 5-4!
The Gunners had won the league the previous season with their Invincibles team going the whole campaign without a single defeat in the Premier League. Most of their best players remained for the following season’s clash with Spurs, but it was the home side who took the lead with a volleyed finish from Noureddine Naybet. It was 1-1 at half time after Gunners hero Theirry Henry found an equaliser just before the break, but then the goals really started flying in in the second half.
Lauren got Arsenal’s second from the penalty spot and Patrick Vieira made it 3-1 soon after. Spurs’ hit back through Jermaine Defoe, but Freddie Ljungberg put the visitors back on top. Tottenham defensive stalwart Ledley King headed the home side to within a goal of the Gunners, but Robert Pires made it five for Arsene Wenger’s men with just nine minutes left on the clock. Spurs were not quite dead and buried, however, and Freddie Kanoute’s 88th-minute goal set up an exciting and nerve-jangling finish.
A Brief History of the North London Derby
Although Arsenal and Tottenham first played one another way back in 1887, the Gunners (then known as Royal Arsenal) were not based in north London at the time, so there wasn’t any special rivalry. That only began in 1913 when Arsenal moved to Highbury, a mere four miles from Tottenham’s White Hart Lane home.
The first meeting between the sides after Arsenal’s move north occurred in 1914 in a friendly that ended 5-1 to the Gunners. But it was 1919 when the rivalry took on greater importance as Arsenal were elected to the First Division ahead of Spurs (even though the Gunners had only finished sixth in the second tier and Spurs had ended the previous campaign in 20th in the First Division).
This understandably didn’t go down well with Spurs fans, but at least they won the Second Division at the first time of asking and made it back up to the top tier where they could resume their rivalry with Arsenal. The Gunners, meanwhile, have remained in the top flight ever since, having never tasted relegated from that day onwards.
Which Players Have Played for Both Arsenal & Tottenham
Over the years, there have been several players who have “crossed the divide” from Arsenal to Tottenham or vice versa. The following players have played for both clubs in the Premier League:
Bentley moved to Arsenal at the age of just 13 and was knocking on the door of the first team when a mere 16 years old. However, he made just one Premier League appearance for the Gunners (a 1-1 draw against Portsmouth in May 2004) and after a couple of loan moves, he got a transfer to Blackburn. Tottenham then bought him for £15m in 2008 and he made a total of 42 Premier League appearances for the club, though he never really fulfilled his potential and his career petered out somewhat.
French defender, Gallas, is one of the few players who was relatively successful at both Arsenal and Spurs, although he never won any trophies at either (although he did at Chelsea before his move to Arsenal). He made 101 Premier League appearances for the Gunners and 61 for Spurs before heading to Australia to end his playing days with Perth Glory.
At his best, Togolese striker, Emmanuel Adebayor, was all but unplayable. Unfortunately, he tended to be a little inconsistent at times and sometimes looked, dare we say, a bit lazy. Still, he scored 46 goals in 104 Premier League appearances for Arsenal and (after spells at Man City and on loan at Real Madrid) he scored 35 in 92 EPL games for Spurs.
While all the above played for Arsenal and then Spurs, Sol Campbell is the only player to have gone the other way in the Premier League era. A powerful and assured defender (most of the time), Campbell played 255 Premier League games for Spurs before moving across north London and playing 135 times for the Gunners. He played another 11 games for Arsenal in the EPL in a second spell at the club but it was his first spell in which he won two Premier Leagues and three FA Cups with Arsenal. Before that he also won the League Cup with Spurs.