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The 5 greatest North London derbies in the Premier League era

Friday 9th February 2018

Ahead of Arsenal's trip to face Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday afternoon, we select the five most memorable North London derbies since the Premier League's introduction. 

5. Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham (2011/12)

Tottenham Hotspur was flying under Harry Redknapp's stewardship, sitting in third place, having already beaten Arsenal 2-1 at White Hart Lane in October. Spurs entered the Emirates following a captivating 5-0 win at Newcastle two weeks prior and their luck appeared to be in again early doors. Louis Saha opened the scoring shortly after the first whistle with the aid of a heavy deflection, before Arsenal's old enemy Emmanuel Adebayor added a second from the penalty spot.

Bacary Sagna nodded home just minutes later to reduce Arsenal's deficit. A top-class strike from Robin van Persie levelled proceedings before the interval. After the break, momentum shifted as veteran Tomas Rosicky delicately flicked in a third for the hosts after a lovely passing move. Theo Walcott's lightning pace then twice opened up a shambolic Tottenham defence. Game, set, match.

Inevitably, just one point separated the two sides in Arsenal's favour come the end of the season. Their bitter rivals harshly missed out on a Champions League place due to Chelsea's European triumph.

4. Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham (2008/09)

Though scarcely believable in this day and age, there was a time when Tottenham was simply making up the numbers in the Premier League. Juande Ramos could only lead his side to a bleak 11th place finish in 2008, followed by a dreadful start to the new campaign that left them in the relegation zone in October. Enter 'Harry Houdini'.

Arsene Wenger had guided his side to fourth spot when Spurs came to town in Redknapp's second game at the helm. Within 13 minutes, David Bentley set the scene for the chaos to come, sending the travelling supporters into hysteria by scoring an unforgettable, dipping volley against his former employer. The Gunners equalised before the half-time whistle. A flurry of goals shortly past the hour mark had the score at 4-2 in Arsenal's favour. Jermaine Jenas silenced the overconfident home support with a brilliant left-footed finish with just a minute on the clock. The game wasn't quite over, though.

The Emirates pleaded for the final whistle to blow as Spurs galloped up the field once more. With only seconds remaining, Luka Modric's beautifully struck volley cannoned off Manuel Almunia's post and rebounded to Aaron Lennon, who tucked into an empty net to create an unforgettable Premier League moment.

3. Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham (2010/11)

Spurs had failed to defeat their sworn enemy on Arsenal turf in 17 excruciating league attempts when they travelled across North London in November 2010. Tottenham had been beaten soundly by league leaders Manchester United at Old Trafford just three weeks prior, while the Gunners were sitting pretty in second place. It was surely going to be a routine home win?

It certainly appeared that way when Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh handed the boys in red a two-goal advantage going into the interval. Who knows what choice words Redknapp had for his side during the break, but it worked a charm. Gareth Bale broke away from a high Arsenal line to hand the visitors hope just five minutes into the second half, before Cesc Fabregas's clumsy handball allowed Rafael van der Vaart to level the scores from the penalty spot 15 minutes later.

As the clock ticked down, the power had evidently shifted into the visiting sides favour. Arsenal looked to have ample bodies in their box to deal with Van der Vaart's in-swinging free kick shortly before injury time. But Younes Kaboul delicately flicked his header past a stunned Lukasz Fabianski to end a 17-year long hoodoo.

2. Tottenham 4-5 Arsenal (2004/05)

Eventful, dramatic and thoroughly entertaining, this intense bout impressed all-but the defensive coaches. After Arsenal lifted the Premier League trophy on Tottenham territory seven months earlier, the grudge between the two teams had become more bitter than ever. 

White Hart Lane exploded when Noureddine Naybet smashed the home side ahead, only for an unusually quiet Thierry Henry to poke in an equaliser in first-half injury time. Rapidly into the second half, it became evident that neither team were happy to settle for a point. Arsenal took the lead for the first time, scoring from the penalty spot through Lauren, of all players. Patrick Vieira then made it 3-1 with a patented powerful run and finish.

Jermain Defoe's stunner kept hope alive for Martin Jol's men. Only for Cesc Fabregas to find Freddie Ljungberg with an exquisite reverse pass to make it 4-2. Yet Spurs refused to sit down. Captain Ledley King powered home a header moments later. It was Robert Pires who had the final say, however, finishing delicately from the tightest of angles to make the score 5-3. Freddie Kanoute stabbed in a fourth for Tottenham after a rare Henry error, but ultimately it wasn't enough.

1. Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal (2003/04)

With the most sincere apologies to Tottenham supporters, the undisputed greatest North London derby took place during Arsenal's finest hour in 2004. The Gunners headed to White Hart Lane on an outstanding run of 33 league games unbeaten - needing just a solitary point to wrap up the Premier League title. The goal for their rivals was simple - end said unbeaten run, spoil the party and preserve their own top-flight status.

N17 produced a deafening atmosphere as the match got underway, but it took just three minutes for captain Patrick Vieira to silence the home end after a marauding run from central midfield. Tottenham's resilience wore thin 30 minutes later as an outstanding team move saw Robert Pires tuck his big chance away and put one hand on the esteemed trophy.

Experienced midfielder Jamie Redknapp offered David Pleat's men a lifeline shortly beyond the hour mark, firing in a trademark strike from outside the box. The game-changing moment came shortly afterwards when Pires failed to tuck away another golden opportunity one-on-one, pummelling Kasey Keller's crossbar with the match at stake.

Controversy ensued as tempers flared in the dying moments. Referee Mark Halsey stopped the clock and consulted with his assistant when Jens Lehmann and Robbie Keane clashed during a corner kick, resulting in a Spurs penalty right at the death. The Irish international kept his nerve to blow the roof off White Hart Lane and level the scores, creating a nervy ending for Arsene Wenger and co.

Alas, the visiting side held out and the ensuing ecstatic Arsenal celebrations in front of thousands of jubilant followers will never be forgotten. The Gunners went on to complete the season unbeaten, being dubbed 'the Invincibles' and writing their name in Premier League folklore.

Ryan Wilson

Total articles: 13

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