Date: 28th November 2006 at 10:59pm
Written by:

This Saturday sees the first ever North London derby at Ashburton Grove. Will it live up to some of the great contests of the past? Will Arsenal maintain their stranglehold on the fixture? Arsene Wenger has a tremendous record against the neighbours during his decade in charge.

Let`s check it out.

Wenger`s first taste of the rivalry was in November 1996, when Highbury witnessed a typically feisty clash. Ian Wright put the Gunners ahead from the spot after Dennis Bergkamp had been fouled. The equaliser lit the blue touchpaper. With Vieira down injured Arsenal put the ball out of play, expecting the ball back from the throw in. Instead the ball was thrown to Sinton who hit a speculative shot that hit the net via post and the back of Lukic`s head. The response was late, but none the less enjoyable for that, Adams and Bergkamp scoring crackers in the final two minutes to secure the points. The return at the Lane in February ended in a goal-less stalemate.

Wenger`s first double season saw two draws. It was another scoreless draw at Highbury in August, and in fairness to Tottenham they did well to survive the second-half after Edinburgh`s sending off. Ray Parlour struck in a 1-1 Christmas draw in N17.

November 98 saw the return of George Graham to Highbury, this time as opposition manager. He left the happier after yet another 0-0 draw, although in truth the hosts had done everything but score. In May Arsenal hit the top of the league as goals from Petit, Anelka, and Kanu took them to a 3-1 win, Anderton hitting the consolation for the hosts.

November 7th 1999 will be recorded as Wenger’s only defeat at Tottenham, who led through Iverson and Sherwood before Vieira reduced the arrears. Arsenal`s attempts to equalise were not helped by the dismissal of Ljungberg for an alleged butt on Ginola. The Frenchman himself admitted there was no contact and that he had been struck by a missile from the crowd. Keown followed in the closing stages for a second yellow. In the return fixture Chris Armstrong had the dubious honour of scoring at both ends in the first half, before Thierry Henry sealed a 2-1 home win from the spot following Taricco`s lunge at Parlour.

A week before Christmas Day in 2000 witnessed a late Patrick Vieira equaliser at the Lane after Rebrov had given Tottenham the half-time advantage. The return fixture in March was a sad affair, and the visiting fans are due thanks for their part in the minutes silence in memory of the recently departed David Rocastle. What followed was a low key encounter decided by goals from Pires and Henry. There was to be one further meeting this season. In the FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford Doherty gave Spurs the lead against the run of play, but Vieira and Pires took Arsenal to the Final, as Sol Campbell limped out of the Tottenham defence.

Another Arsenal double season followed, and the teams first meeting at the Lane was another red-hot clash as Sol Campbell made his first appearance against his former employers. Robert Pires appeared to have won the game with a twenty yard drive, but four minutes into injury time Richard Wright fumbled Poyet`s volley into his own net and the points were shared. The return saw Lauren clinch the points for the title chasers from the spot, adding to a Freddie Ljungberg strike. Sheringham netted for the visitors from the spot.

At Highbury that November Thierry Henry started the rout in thirteen minutes with a mazy run from his own half and clinical finish. Pires and Wiltord added second half strikes against ten men after Davies had been red-carded. Little more than a month later the spoils were shared 1-1, Ziege and Pires the scorers.

So to the 2003-4 Invincibles season. At Highbury in November Anderton opened for Spurs in just four minutes, but second half goals from Pires and Ljungberg were just reward for a dominant Arsenal. On April 24th Newcastle had earlier defeated Chelsea which left Arsenal needing a point to clinch the Championship at White Hart Lane for the second time. Vieira, after three minutes, and Pires, ten minutes before half-time, got the celebrations under way. Tottenham, to their credit, stormed back in the second half and were rewarded with goals from Redknapp and a last minute penalty from Keane. The home fans departed with pride salvaged as Sol Campbell celebrated his second Premiership medal with his team mates and the visiting supporters.

November 13th 2004 and White Hart Lane witnessed one of the most remarkable derby clashes ever. Arsenal eventually triumphed 5-4 and nine different players scored. Naybet, Defoe, King and Kanoute struck for Spurs but were outdone by Henry, Lauren, Vieira, Ljungberg, and Pires (who else!). The second meeting at Highbury was an altogether tamer affair settled by Jose Antonio Reyes in 21 minutes.

So to last season, and two typically fractious 1-1 draws. King and Pires netting at the Lane, while the last ever clash at Highbury saw Henry cancel out Keane`s disputed strike for the visitors.

So there you have it, Wenger takes an incredible record of ten wins, ten draws, and a solitary defeat, into Saturday`s historic encounter. His unblemished home record of seven wins and three draws is at stake. Will it be another goal-laden thriller, or another tense and bad-tempered affair? Who knows? That`s the beauty of Arsenal versus Tottenham.

Article submitted by FatOldDave.