Bill Shankly got it right when he said that football was more than life or death, and it will certainly feel that way for fans of both the Gunners and Spurs as their sides clash in the 2011/12 installment of one of English football's oldest rivalries. Here are some of the best North London derbies that exemplify what this long-standing rivalry is all about.
1995 :Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham
This game was billed as the "Battle of the Super-strikers", with both Jurgen Klinsmann and Ian Wright on course for 30 goals in the 1995 Premier League season. The Arsenal legend was on 29 goals then, while Klinsmann was slightly behind on 27.
Both men scored for their sides as the final score ended 1-1, but frankly it could have easily been a goal-fest! Teddy Sheringham, still vehemently hated by Arsenal fans, should have won the game for Spurs but missed an open header, while Ian "Wright-Wright-Wright" flubbed his lines to miss out on an important hat-trick.
2004: Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal
Sour faces greeted Arsenal upon their return to White Hart Lane in 2004, as Arsene Wenger's unbeaten men looked to continue their record against the Lilywhites.
What made things worst for Martin Jol's men, was the fact that the Gunners only needed one more point to wrap up the title, and there couldn't be a more humiliating thought in the minds of the Spurs faithful.
After 35 minutes most supporters at White Hart Lane could barely lift their heads, with Patrick Vieira opening the scoring after a flowing Arsenal attack, and Robert Pires burying another poachers goal.
Back at Highbury, fans were celebrating yet another title, but began to worry as "Mad" Jens Lehmann began to lose his composure after being repeatedly fouled by Robbie Keane. After a morale-boosting opener by Jamie Redknapp, Keane managed to wrangle a penalty after Lehmann finally lost his head and shoved the Irish striker in the penalty box.
Keane duly converted to level the scores at 2-2, but that was the best result Spurs could muster, which meant their hated rivals had won the title in their backyard.
2004: Tottenham 4-5 Arsenal
2004 was a vintage year for North London derbies, and White Hart Lane was witness to one of the most pulsating contests in English football. Once again, the Gunners took a two goal lead against their old rivals, leading 3-1, only to decide that defence was over-rated.
Jermaine Defoe could hardly disguise his delight when his stroll from the halfway line left the Arsenal defence flummoxed, and his unstoppable drive gave Tottenham fans renewed hope that their side could grab something from this fixture.
However, Arsenal's twin terrors, Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires, embarked on their usual forays forward down the flanks and notched another two goals to put the Gunners back into the drivers seat.
Frederic Kanoute then ruffled Arsenal feathers by scoring close to the end, and this match will go down as one of the most exciting North London derbies ever.
Interestingly enough, even the "Special One" caught this goal-fest.
Jose Mourinho, then managing Chelsea, couldn't resist a dig at Arsene Wenger's side, saying: "That was not a football score, it was a hockey score...in training I often play matches of three against three and when the score reaches 5-4, I send the players back to the dressing room, because they are not defending properly".
2008: Tottenham 5-1 Arsenal
This was a day to remember for the Lilywhites. Their 5-1 win in January was only Wenger's second loss to the neighbours since he joined Arsenal in 1996, and it was also Spur's biggest victory over the old enemy in 25 years!
Juande Ramos may have left White Hart Lane with his tail between his legs, but Spurs supporters will always have a special place for him in their hearts after the Spaniard mastermined this victory.
Jermaine Jenas struck first in the third minute, before Nicklas Bendtner's own goal left the Gunners 2-0 down at half-time. By the time Emmanuel Adebayor scored in the 70th minute, Robbie Keane and Aaron Lennon had already put Spurs 4-1 ahead, and Steed Malbranque scored at the death to break complete the rout.
2008 :Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham
There was much pathos for this fixture, as Harry Redknapp, newly installed as Tottenham manager, was looking to shore up support for himself at White Hart Lane by ensuring that his team got something at the Emirates. Arsenal, on the other hand, were looking for blood following their 5-1 loss earlier in the year.
Of course, a villain was needed, and up stepped David Bentley.
An Arsenal trainee, Bentley was earmarked for greater things at his old club, but a combination of disciplinary issues and ill-timed loss of form led him to try his luck across the Seven Sisters instead. Redknapp was not disappointed as the player scored with an amazing 40 yard volley that dropped into the Arsenal goal as if via GPS!
Mikael Silvestre, William Gallas, Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie all scored to put the Gunners 4-2 up, but Wenge r was soon tearing his hair out as his defence let Jermaine Jenas and Aaron Lennon make off with a gut-wrenching draw in the dying moments of the match.
This fixture was a draw snatched from the jaws of victory, at least from Arsenal's point of view.
2011: Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur
For Tottenham Hotspur fans crossing over the Seven Sisters every year, this victory over their hated rivals marked a cathartic release after 17 long years of trudging back broken-hearted, as the Gunners threw away a 2-0 lead at half-time to crash to a historic defeat.
Arguably, this defeat marked the beginning of the end of Arsenal's title-charge that season, as they were on course to leapfrog Chelsea at the top of the table, after leading at the interval with goals from Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh.
Alas, it was not to be, as Harry Redknapp masterminded a victory that will always be remembered for the nature of the way the Gunners crumbled, as Gareth Bale tore their rearguard apart with some fantastic attacking play.
The Welsh star scored five minutes into the second half, and Rafael van der Vaart and Younes Kaboul plundered two crucial goals to complete the Tottenham fightback at the Emirates Stadium, and leave the home fans in tears.
Interesting facts about the North London derby
- Emmanuel Adebayor scored eight goals in nine games in all competitions for Arsenal against Spurs.
- Since Harry Redknapp joined Tottenham, Spurs have won two, drawn three and lost two of the seven meetings in all competitions against Arsenal.
- Tottenham have kept just one clean sheet in their last 31 matches in all competitions against the Gunners.
- There were 16 goals scored in the three meetings between Arsenal and Tottenham last season and four penalties netted.
- Robin van Persie has scored four goals in his last four Premier League starts against Spurs.
- Rafael van der Vaart has scored three goals in his two Premier League appearances against the Gunners.
- Gareth Bale has scored three goals in the Premier League against Arsenal, more than versus any other opponent.
- Arsenal have won just two of their last 16 matches in all competitions away from the Emirates Stadium, including the Carling Cup Final at Wembley (W2 D7 L7) and conceded 12 goals in their last two Premier League away matches.
- Spurs have lost none of their last 15 home London derbies in the Premier League (W9 D6 L0) since defeat against Arsenal in September 2007.
- Arsenal and Tottenham have drawn 17 times in the Premier League, the most ties of any fixture in the history of the competition.
- Spurs have managed just two headed attempts on target this season, both resulting in goals.
- Arsenal have earned the most red cards this season (3) while Spurs have seen the joint-most opponents dismissed (3).