In the last two North London derbies, the team which has taken a two goal lead at the Emirates has gone on to lose the match. Tottenham recovered from the deficit in November, 2010 after conceding two first half goals to record their first win at the stadium and their first away win over Arsenal since May, 1993. Last season, it was Arsenal who made the recovery, going from two down after 35 minutes, to be level by the interval and add three second half goals for a resounding 5 – 2 victory. That result dented Tottenham’s aspirations for a title challenge and proved the turning point for both clubs in the race for a Champions League place finish and leaves Spurs still looking for their first ‘double’ over their near neighbours since 1992-93 season.
February, 2012 PL Lost 2 – 5 Saha, Adebayor
Spurs were ahead after three minutes when a pass from Emmanuel Adebayor found Louis Saha in acres of space and as he advanced into the penalty area his shot was deflected off the heel of the defender trying to close him down. The ball looped into the air and over the goalkeeper. Spurs couldn’t have asked for a better start and initially were much quicker to the ball than Arsenal. Gradually, Arsenal started to put their game together as a warning to Tottenham. Then after 35 minutes, Spurs doubled their lead when Gareth Bale was brought down. Adebayor coolly scored on his 28th birthday to give Spurs a two goal advantage and become only the second player, after Jimmy Robertson, to score for both clubs in a north London derby.
Just as Spurs were looking to consolidate and get to half-time, Arsenal scored twice in three minutes through Sagna and Van Persie. In the second half it was Arsenal who were in the ascendancy. They quickly got into their stride and Spurs simply didn’t respond. Rosicky put Arsenal ahead as they played with a desire and a confidence which had been missing in the first half. Spurs were floundering as Walcott who had been jeered by home supporters in the first half, scored twice.
November, 2010 PL Won 3 – 2 Bale, Van der Vaart (pen), Kaboul
When Spurs went two goals down with less than thirty minutes played, it looked as if it was going to be a familiar story of disappointment and defeat. At the interval, Harry Redknapp replaced Aaron Lennon with Jermain Defoe and switched to a 4 – 4 – 2 formation as Spurs demonstrated their true ability. Gareth Bale’s goal after fifty minutes brought them back into the game. Rafael Van der Vaart then coolly scored from the penalty spot with twenty three minutes remaining and Younes Kaboul completed the comeback by heading the winner from a Van der Vaart free-kick with five minutes left to record their first away win over Arsenal in seventeen years.
Team: Gomes; Hutton, Gallas, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (Defoe), Jenas, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart (Palacios); Pavlyuchenko (Crouch)
Tottenham have often tried to talk up their chances ahead of making the short journey to play Arsenal but equally often they have floundered through basic errors of their own making.
October, 2009 PL Lost 0 – 3
For much of the first half, Spurs were in contention but two basic errors in quick succession turned the game and ended any hope for Tottenham. Van Persie gave the home side the lead with three minutes to go to half-time after some dubious defending by Spurs. From Spurs’ kick-off, they presented the ball to Fabregas who waltzed through the defence to score within eleven seconds of the restart. Match over and Arsenal settled for a third in the second half as Spurs again lost concentration defensively.
October, 2008 PL Draw 4 – 4 Bentley, Bent, Jenas, Lennon
Officially, this was Harry Redknapp’s first game as manager of Spurs although he had been present for the first win of the season against Bolton the previous Sunday. Spurs got off to the perfect start when David Bentley scored with a wonder strike after thirteen minutes. Arsenal equalised before half-time and William Gallas put them ahead in the first minute after the interval. Emmanuel Adebayor got his customary goal to make it 3 – 1 but three minutes later substitute, Darren Bent, pulled a goal back, only two minutes after coming on. A minute later Arsenal restored their two goal advantage. Approaching the final minute they still maintained their lead but Jermaine Jenas scored in the 89th minute only for Lennon to complete the recovery a minute later.
Away League Record against Arsenal (inc. PL):
P 71 W 17 D 19 L 35 For 81 Ag 117
Away Premier League Record against Arsenal:
P 20 W 2 D 7 L 11 For 20 Ag 38
Early Derbies at the Emirates
Arsenal moved to the Emirates at the start of season 2006 – 07 and there have been 8 League and Cup meetings since then. The first ended in a three goal defeat in December, 2006 and the following January, Mido became the first Spurs player to score at the Emirates in a League Cup semi-final. The match ended 1 – 1 but Arsenal went on to win 3 -1 in extra time to reach the Final.
Dimitar Berbatov scored Spurs’ first Premier League goal in a 2 – 1 defeat in December, 2007 but Jermaine Jenas has the record of scoring the first goal of significance for Spurs at the stadium when he gave Spurs the lead in the 2008 Carling Cup semi-final as Tottenham drew 1 – 1 in the first leg. Spurs then recorded a 5 – 1 second leg victory on the way to a Carling Cup win over Chelsea in the Final at Wembley.
Last Derby at Highbury
April, 2006 PL Draw 1 – 1 Keane
With only three games left in the season, this match was crucial in the battle for fourth place and Champions League qualification. Spurs had held fourth for much of the season but Arsenal were making a final bid to deprive Spurs of their first Champions League outing. Goalless at half-time Robbie Keane had given Spurs the lead after 66 minutes – advantage Spurs. However, with six minutes remaining, Henry equalised having been set up by Adebayor. In the final minutes Spurs had to hold on with ten men as Edgar Davids was sent off for two yellow card offences.
Martin Jol’s side won their final home game but Arsenal with a game in hand won their next two and so it went down to the final day when a sickly Spurs team were beaten at West Ham and Arsenal snatched fourth from their grasp.
Can Tottenham win at the Emirates tomorrow? Neither team is currently in great form but Arsenal tend to overcome their difficulties better in these derby encounters. They have Jack Wiltshire back after injury and suspension while Spurs are troubled by a lengthening injury list. A few weeks ago, I was quite looking forward to the game but as it gets closer I’m not so sure of the outcome. Arsenal’s defence is the weakest it’s been in many years and Spurs have the players in Bale and Lennon to expose it. Will Spurs, however, have the inclination to try and stretch it or will they be more concerned with containment? The winners will be the team who show the greatest desire to win and are more prepared to give their all.
Andre Villas-Boas is well aware of the significance of this match, especially with the top three clubs currently looking likely to create a breakaway group at the top of the League. Finishing above Arsenal is essential to have any chance of a top four finish and claiming a Champions League place.
How will Spurs Get on against Arsenal? Vote on HotspurHQ Poll: www.hotspurhq.com