Welcome back to yet another trip down memory lane, as we look back at one of the many Premier League encounters between bitter rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. The North London counterparts were both battling it out for 4th spot in the top flight, and as this game proved, there was very little to separate the sides – although you could sense that Tottenham Hotspur were a team on the rise.
In the final North London derby to ever take place at Highbury Stadium, Spurs quite clearly came to spoil the party. They were efficient, they were dominant, and throughout the majority of the first half, it felt like a case of men against boys. Alas, they weren’t quite able to get the goal they so richly deserved in the first 45 minutes, and they were forced to wait – but the away fans were still elated when the moment came.
The man of the moment was Robbie Keane as he tapped the ball home from Edgar Davids’ cross, as the home faithful faced the very real possibility of being embarrassed by their rivals on such a big stage. Their unbeaten run against Spurs was hanging in the balance, and in addition to that, they would’ve fallen even further behind them in the race to claim the last UEFA Champions League qualification spot.
But as they say, it’s not over until it’s over, and in the final ten minutes, it was Mr Reliable himself Thierry Henry who popped up with one final dagger in the heart of the opposition. From that point on Spurs seemed to self-implode, with Davids receiving a second yellow card to leave them vulnerable to a potential late winner.
Alas, that never came, but the draw was enough to spur Arsenal on (pun not intended) towards capturing 4th ahead of Tottenham. Sure, it’s not like it was anywhere near the kind of elation they’d have felt with a title victory, but they celebrated it all the same.
As we look ahead to the next few weeks, with Arsene Wenger set to leave the club after more than two decades in charge, it’s fascinating to look back on all of these encounters. Arsenal fans may not love him now, but when they think about these kinds of games, they’ll remember why he was ‘the man’ for so long.
What’s your fondest North London derby memory?