While we wait for football to return, I’m taking a look back on my favourite Arsenal moments against Spurs from the last couple of decades.
As a disclaimer, unfortunately, I wasn’t alive to see the likes of the 1971 title win at White Hart Lane. I grew up in the Arsene Wenger era, so my list is going to revolve around that timeframe and beyond.
Much as I respect and enjoy looking back on Arsenal’s achievements in the 20th century, I don’t feel I could do them justice. Instead, I’m going to talk about my personal favourite North London derby moments from the last couple of decades.
For an alternative view on the Arsenal-Spurs derby, check out this post on the history of the rivalry. Now, let’s get into my top five.
5. Tottenham Hotspur 4-5 Arsenal (2004)
Scoring five goals at the home of your rivals is rarely a bad thing, but derby matches don’t get much more back and forth than this one.
Spurs took the lead through Noureddine Naybet, before Thierry Henry equalised on the stroke of half-time. Despite going in 1-1 at the break, the goals started flowing in the second half.
Lauren gave Arsenal the lead from the penalty spot before Patrick Vieira doubled his team’s advantage in the 60th minute. Just a minute later, Jermaine Defoe pulled it back to 3-2.
The two teams continued to take turns scoring goals, with Freddie Ljungberg making it 4-2, Ledley King cutting the gap for 4-3, Robert Pires seemingly killing the game at 5-3 before Frederic Kanoute almost sparked another comeback in the 88th minute.
That’s where it ended though, as the highest-scoring North London derby ever.
4. Arsenal 4-2 Tottenham Hotspur (2018)
A more recent example this time, as Arsenal came from behind to beat Spurs at the Emirates Stadium. Though Arsenal took the lead through an early Aubameyang penalty, Spurs were 2-1 up by half-time through Eric Dier and Harry Kane.
Dier’s celebrations were particularly emphatic, shushing the Arsenal fans before fighting with the substitutes and telling Aaron Ramsey to “sit back down” on the bench.
In the end, Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette came on for the second half and changed the game. It was the Welsh midfielder who set up Aubameyang’s equaliser, before assisting Lacazette to take the lead – courtesy of a deflection off Dier.
To cap the day off, Lucas Torreira left Dier on the floor as he scored Arsenal’s fourth. Plus, Jan Vertonghen got sent off for a second yellow card.
3. Thierry Henry’s goal (2002)
The goal that inspired the pose for Thierry Henry’s statue, I’ll never get tired of seeing this one. Henry ran much of the length of the pitch on his own before scoring, then raced back down the other end to celebrate in front of the Spurs fans.
Arsenal ended up winning 3-0 to go top of the table, but this is the moment that will always stand out from that day.
2. The 5-2s (2012)
Beating Spurs 5-2 twice in one year has to be up there in any list like this. The first time around, a deflection and a Gareth Bale dive helped the visitors take a 2-0 lead within 34 minutes.
Bacary Sagna and Robin van Persie made it 2-2 before the break, though. Tomas Rosicky completed the comeback with a goal sooner after half time.
Theo Walcott, who had a pretty terrible first half, came to life and added two more goals to make it 5-2. His relief was clear to see in the celebrations, and it capped off a wonderful day for Arsenal.
Later that year in November, Spurs took the lead again, with Adebayor scoring as he did in the previous game. This time he dug his team’s grave with a stupid challenge on Santi Cazorla, earning a red card.
Per Mertesacker drew Arsenal level, before Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud made it 3-1 by half-time. Santi Cazorla added a fourth before Bale pulled one back, but Theo Walcott added a fifth once again. You can watch the second 5-2 on Arsenal Player.
1. Winning the league at White Hart Lane
Of course, there’s only one winner here. Winning the league is one thing, but winning it without losing a game, at the home of your local rivals, is another. It’s something we’re unlikely to see again in our lifetimes, for any Premier League club.
It was a 2-2 draw on the day, as Arsenal raced into a 2-0 lead before taking their foot off the gas in the latter stages. It didn’t matter though, as they only needed a draw in the first place.
In fact, Spurs’ late comeback only made Arsenal keener to celebrate the title win on the White Hart Lane pitch.
As Thierry Henry said later “They were celebrating a draw and coming in front of me jumping around…I remember at the end of the game everybody was like ‘Do not celebrate’. I said ‘What?! I will celebrate, and you will see how much it’s going to hurt them’.”