Origins, Best Derbies, Iconic Players And More

The North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur is the capital’s stellar fixture and one of the fiercest derbies in football.

From full-blooded challenges to iconic goal celebrations, the rivalry between the North London giants has become box-office viewing for football fans all over the world. Not only because of the rivalry but for the sheer amount of goals that are scored on each occasion.

There is no love lost between these two sides, and we don’t think there ever will be. But there has always been that curiosity regarding where the hatred between reds and whites started and how it built up during the late 19th and 20th Centuries.

So, join GIVEMESPORT as we delve into the intricacies of the long-running rivalry, including all the information you need to know about the history of the fixture, the head-to-head record between the two clubs and the main protagonists for each side over the years.


The feud between the two sides dates back to the early 20th century when Arsenal moved from the Manor Ground in South-East London to Highbury. This placed them within four miles of Spurs’ White Hart Lane and a local rivalry soon developed.

This ill feeling was only exacerbated after the First World War, when in 1919, Arsenal were voted into Division One at the expense of Tottenham, sparking furious protests from the club’s representatives.

Since then, supporters of the two clubs have cultivated a passionate, but largely well-meaning, sense of competition as the pair regularly battle it out towards the top of the Premier League.

Needless to say, the Arsenal fans have had plenty more to celebrate than their Spurs counterparts in terms of silverware – especially over the past 20 years. However, the jovial back-and-forth ‘banter’ between the two sets of supporters has remained as prominent as ever.

Walcott mocking Spurs fans

St Totteringham’s Day?

While the Gunners have enjoyed plenty of success in their history, one of the most cherished moments of the season for any Arsenal fan remains the day when it’s mathematically impossible for Spurs to finish above them in the league table.

This tongue-in-cheek celebration is known as St Totteringham’s Day and was first created on fan forums in the early 2000s. The concept gathered momentum throughout the decade before the introduction of social media provided it with mainstream recognition.


According to 11v11, the two sides have faced each other 207 times across all competitions (including the Premier League, Division One, FA Cup and League Cup).

Arsenal hold the advantage in the rivalry with 86 victories over Tottenham’s 67, while there have also been 54 draws.

It’s worth noting that this head-to-head record was weighted even more in the Gunners’ favour after Spurs went 21 derbies between November 1999 and January 2008 without a win, however, the Lilywhites have somewhat closed the gap in recent times.

Read more: Arsenal vs Tottenham: Head to Head record

Trophy Haul

Arsenal lifting Premier League trophy

As per TransferMarkt, Arsenal have won 47 trophies during their illustrious history, including 13 league titles.

While Tottenham haven’t won quite as many as their arch-rivals, they still boast a healthy trophy cabinet with 26, although their last piece of silverware came back in 2008.

Best Derbies

Arsenal and Tottenham have been involved in some blockbuster derbies over the years, with both sides suffering their fair share of ecstasy and heartache.

Tottenham 3-1 Arsenal – 1991

A day now deep-rooted in Spurs folklore, the 1991 FA Cup semi-final between the two teams produced a thrilling spectacle as Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker fired the Lilywhites to victory.

Tottenham went on to win the FA Cup that season, leaving many a supporter to reflect on their semi-final triumph as ‘St Hotspur Day’.

Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal – 2004

Arsenal couldn’t have picked a better place to wrap up the Premier League title in the 2003/04 campaign as Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ sealed the deal with an entertaining draw at White Hart Lane.

Pires scoring for Arsenal

Needing only a point to clinch the title, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires put the Gunners 2-0 up at half-time. Spurs recovered after the break to level late on, however, it wasn’t enough to spoil Arsenal’s special day.

Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham – 2008

In one of the most unpredictable and chaotic matches in Premier League history, both sides went hell for leather in an eight-goal feast for the ages.

David Bentley opened the scoring with a spectacular long-range volley before Arsenal rallied to lead 4-2. That remained the score until the 89th minute when Jermaine Jenas pulled one back – leaving Aaron Lennon to pop up and rescue a dramatic point four minutes into stoppage time.

Who are the iconic derby players?

There have been some brilliant players involved in the North London derby over the years, but these are the individuals who consistently performed in the heat of the rivalry.

Harry Kane

The chant “he’s one of our own” will always be a contentious topic when it comes to Harry Kane, but the striker has become an irrepressible figure in derbies over the years. However, screenshots of the Spurs number 9 wearing a Gunners shirt when he was a youngster is something that the Emirates faithful bring up regularly.

Read more: Harry Kane: Is Spurs legend actually an Arsenal fan?

As per TransferMarkt, Kane has struck 14 times in North London derbies, making him the clear top scorer in the contest. The Spurs frontman’s most iconic goal in the rivalry has to be his sublime strike at White Hart Lane in the 2015/16 campaign.

However, his days in North London could be about to come to an end due to Tottenham’s lack of success in recent years. The England captain, at the time of writing, has not moved on but is being heavily linked with a move to Bayern Munich.

Read more: Tottenham now set for ‘new talks’ over £86m star at Hotspur Way

Thierry Henry

The legendary French forward scored seven times against Tottenham, with the pick of the bunch coming in 2002 as he netted an extraordinary solo goal before running the length of the Highbury pitch to celebrate in front of the away supporters.

Such was the magnitude and the iconic nature of the goal, Henry’s North London derby heroics in 2002 have been immortalised in the form of a statue outside the Emirates. His disdain for Tottenham, even after retirement, still exists even today. He was asked whether he would play for Spurs and his expression spoke volumes. Hilariously, Henry actually threatened to leave the television studio after the question was asked.

There’s no denying Henry’s ability and his God-like status at the football club. He is a man that wears his heart on his sleeve and if you could him open, he would bleed Arsenal. Easily one of the greatest players not only to ever play for the Gunners – but to strut their stuff in the Premier League. That’s how good he was.

Emmanuel Adebayor

Given his reputation of being a polarising figure at the best of times, it seems entirely fitting that Emmanuel Adebayor’s record of 10 derby goals makes him the most prolific player to have scored for both sides in the fixture.

Here is a wonderful strike that the striker scored that sealed which sealed victory for the Gunners in 2007.

However, Adebayor famously moved to Manchester City after he departed from North London, and infamously goaded the Emirates faithful after scoring against them and ran the length of the pitch to knee slide in front of them.

If you ask any Arsenal fan, or Spurs supporter for that matter about Adebayor, the words chosen may not be so kind.

That being said, Adebayor, when representing the red half of North London, always turned up for the derby and in a huge way.

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