Arsenal vs Tottenham: Biggest Rivalries in Football – North London Derby

Local derby matches always capture the imaginations of the clubs involved. Due to the sheer number of clubs in England’s capital, London, there are so many derbies. However, for most, the north London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham is the biggest in the capital.

The rivalry and vitriol between the two sets of fans have only increased since the introduction of social media. However, the rivalry can often be quite bitter since one club has been more successful than the other in history. Here is more on the north London derby.

The early history of the north London derby

The rivalry dates back to the club’s first-ever meeting in 1887 when the pair met in a friendly match. At the time, Arsenal, then known as Royal Arsenal, was actually based in Plumstead in Kent, not north London.

The game at Tottenham Marshes was abandoned after just 15 minutes, with Tottenham leading 2-1 due to insufficient light. The first full game between the two sides came in February 1888, as Arsenal recorded a 6-2 win on home soil.

The two teams also played in the United League, which was an English league competition that existed between 1896 and 1902 and from 1905 to 1909. The two teams first met in that competition in 1896, a game that resulted in a 2-1 win for the Gunners.

An infamous incident during a derby took place in Spurs’ ground at Northumberland Park in 1898. A refreshment stand collapsed after spectators climbed on it due to overcrowding of the ground, with 15,000 people attending the game.

The incident injured fans and led to Spurs looking for a new ground. The incident also actually led to the club moving not too far away to White Hart Lane, which was the club’s home until 2017, when they moved to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The first North London derby played in the Football League’s First Division was in 1909 when Arsenal recorded a 1-0 victory.

Arsenal’s move to north London ramped up the rivalry

A proper rivalry between the two clubs did not develop until Arsenal moved from their Manor Ground in Plumstead to Highbury, just four miles away from Tottenham’s home ground.

The move didn’t go down well in the Tottenham camp, as Spurs considered Highbury part of their turf and catchment area for fans.

How successful have they been?

When it comes to trophies, Arsenal are way out in front of their rivals in terms of silverware. The Gunners have won 45 domestic trophies, including winning the English top flight on 13 occasions. Spurs have, in contrast, won just 21 trophies in the domestic game, winning the English title just twice.

However, when it comes to European trophies, Tottenham has won three European trophies, compared to Arsenal’s two.

Arsenal have shaded the north London derbies

Competition Matches Played Arsenal Wins Draws Tottenham Wins Arsenal Goals Tottenham Goals
League 172 70 47 55 265 232
FA Cup 6 4 0 2 9 5
League Cup 14 7 3 4 21 19
Community Shield 1 0 1 0 0 0
Total 193 81 85 61 295 256

When it comes to north London derbies, Arsenal has had the upper hand in the overall head-to-head record, having won 81 of the total 193 meetings in competitive action. On the flip side, in comparison, Spurs have claimed 61 derby victories.

In terms of overall goals, Arsenal has not been that more prolific than Tottenham overall, as the Gunners have scored 295 compared to Spurs’ 256 goals.

Stats and records

The highest-scoring game in the history of the north London derby came in September 2004, in a match that finished 5-4 at White Hart Lane. The biggest winning margin in a derby came in March 1935 when Arsenal recorded a 6-0 victory.

However, Tottenham recorded two 5-0 victories in 1911 and 1983, while Arsenal won by the same scoreline in December 1978, with all three games taking place at White Hart Lane. The Gunners also won 5-2 on two occasions in February and November 2012, both at the Emirates Stadium.

Who has scored the most goals in the north London derbies in the Premier League era?

Regarding north London derbies in the Premier League, it will be no surprise that Tottenham and England striker Harry Kane tops the charts of all-time north London derby goalscorers with 14 goals.

The second most prolific player in the fixture is former Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who scored ten goals, having represented both teams in the derby.

Former French international winger Robert Pires is third on the list, scoring eight times for the Gunners. Spurs duo Gareth Bale and Heung-Min Son are joined the list alongside Arsenal pair Robin van Persie and Thierry Henry with five derby goals.

The derby continues between two top clubs

In recent decades both teams have established themselves as top Premier League clubs. The north London duo will likely continue to be big forces in the English top flight for years to come.

The passionate rivalry is likely to stay strong in the coming years, no matter what happens in the future.