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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Spurs v Arsenal, 18.12.2000

Last season's game - Spurs 2 Arsenal 1, 07.11.99
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This preview was written by Brian Judson

Full Record of Spurs -v- Arsenal

Premier       Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home           8   4   2   2     8-7   14
Away           8   1   5   2     7-8    8
Total (Prem)  16   5   7   4    15-15  22
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)   55 24  12  19    93-83  63
Away (Div 1)   55 16  12  27    65-85  46
Total (Div 1) 110 40  24  46   158-168 109
Total (Prem)  16   5   7   4    15-15  22
Total (Div 1) 110 40  24  46   158-168 109
Grand Total   126 45  31  50   173-183 131

This is always the most eagerly awaited fixture of the season by supporters of both sides. Some Arsenal fans may dispute this, saying that they are more interested in the next Champions League fixture rather than a parochial affair between two North London clubs. However, I think the majority of the supporters of both clubs look forward to the match in the hope that their club will be the team that triumphs over the other.

There is very unlikely to be anyone alive who can claim to have seen the first match that took place between these two clubs on 19th November 1887. The Football League had not even been formed at that date and most clubs in the South were still amateurs, although professionalism had been adopted by some clubs in the North West. Tottenham won 2-1 in a game that was abandoned after 75 minutes due to bad light, as, of course, floodlights were not available in those days. But that was not a true London derby as Arsenal were still based at Plumstead Common and Tottenham were still playing on the Tottenham Marshes, close to where the Victoria Line depot stands today.

The first competitive match between the two clubs occurred in the United League on 9th November 1896. Arsenal, by now based at Woolwich, won 2-1 thanks to two goals by Russell whilst Spurs' goal was scored by McElhaney. Arsenal, of course, were already in the Football League, playing in Division 2, whilst Spurs were playing their first season in the Southern League Division 1.

I wonder what the referee of the match played between the two clubs on 24th April 1900 in the Southern District Combination would make of today's standards. Arsenal were winning 2-1, thanks to goals by Logan and Tennant whilst Spurs' goal was scored by Pratt. The match was abandoned after 75 minutes because of bad language!!

Spurs and Arsenal have never met at Division 2 level. Their first Football League match took place on 4th December 1909. Both clubs were near the bottom of the Division at the time. Lawrence scored the only goal of the match for Arsenal.

Spurs have twice beaten Arsenal 5-0. The first occasion was on Christmas Day 1911. Bert Middlemiss, Billy Minter, with two goals, McTavish and Jabez Darnell scored the goals for Spurs. Both clubs were again near the foot of the table. The other occasion that Spurs beat Arsenal 5-0 was on Easter Monday 1983 when a severely injury hit Spurs side crushed Arsenal, 5-0. Tottenham's scorers were Chris Hughton 2, Mark Falco 2 and Alan Brazil. As I recall it, George Wood, Arsenal's goalkeeper, was at fault with both of Chris Hughton's goals, as both were underhit.

On the other hand, Spurs have been thrashed by Arsenal on a number of occasions. The worst of these occurred during the 1934-35 season when Spurs ended the season by being relegated. In October 1934, Arsenal thrashed Tottenham 5-1 at Highbury. Ted Drake scored 3 with Pat Beasley and an own goal by Tommy Evans completed the rout. George Hunt, who later played for Arsenal, scored Tottenham's consolation goal. The return match was played on a Wednesday afternoon in March 1935. Spurs had not won a League match since Boxing Day 1934 and were rooted to the bottom of Division 1. Arsenal's goals were scored by Kirchen, who scored twice on his home debut after signing from Norwich City, Ted Drake 2, Dougall and Cliff Bastin scored a penalty.

A more recent thrashing occurred on December 23rd 1978 when Liam Brady pulled Tottenham apart. Spurs were back in the First Division after a season's absence in Division 2. Arsenal and Spurs were both comfortably in mid-table. Spurs fans were still smiling about Roger Osborne scoring the only goal for Ipswich against Arsenal the previous May. Sunderland scored three of the goals with Stapleton and Brady completing the rout. Brady's goal was probably the best of the five. Even though I am a Spurs supporter, I have to admit that Brady was superb that day.

The most important of the games played between these two clubs occurred on May 3rd 1971. At stake was Tottenham's claim to be the only side to complete the League and Cup Double up to that date. Arsenal required a minimum of a 0-0 or a 1-1 draw but not a higher scoring draw or a defeat to take the title. It was a titanic battle that saw both sides hold the ascendancy but the vital goal, scored by Ray Kennedy, was not scored until the 86th minute. Thousands were locked out of the ground that night. I have never, before or since, seen so much chaos before a match.

Spurs had their revenge in the following season when, in a meaningless match, Spurs won 2-0 at Highbury. One of the goals scored was a classic by Ralph Coates, who ran some 80 yards with the ball to score with all the Arsenal players chasing him.

Another important fixture played between these two clubs occurred on April 14th 1991 in the first FA Cup Semi-Final to be played at Wembley. All Spurs fans will remember that match as Gazza in a cameo appearance of some 60 minutes was the inspiration behind Spurs 3-1 win. Gazza scored the opening goal in the 6th minute and Lineker added two more with Alan Smith scoring Arsenal's consolation goal.

Arsenal fans will prefer to remember the Semi-Final in 1993. Spurs fans, including myself, have largely airbrushed this match out of their minds. I vaguely remember Tony Adams heading the winning goal near the end of the match.

And so thoughts start to turn to Monday night's match. Whatever the outcome, I hope it will be played in its usual sporting manner. There have, unfortunately, been one or two matches played between these two clubs that have seen rather unfortunate episodes occurring in them. But, by and large, most games have been played in the right spirit.

It is impossible to predict the outcome of the match as the form book is always torn up and thrown out of the window. It could be a low scoring game, it could be a high scoring game. The beauty and appeal of this particular fixture is that the outcome is never a foregone conclusion.


Cheers, Brian

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