The first North London derby of the season is fast approaching, and the Gunners will head into the game after losing their 100% record at the hands of Liverpool. The derby will give Unai Emery and his team the perfect opportunity to bounce back to winning ways and inflict a second consecutive defeat on Tottenham.
The rivalry between the Gunners and Spurs is one of the fiercest in world football. The clubs are located a mere four miles away from each other, and there have been more goals in this derby than any other in the United Kingdom.
It’s the Gunners that hold the clear advantage over their rivals, however, as they have won on 82 occasions compared to Spurs’ 64 since the first fixture between the pair in 1896. The North London derby is the ideal chance for players to step up and prove their worth and become a club legend, but which players have managed to do that for the Gunners down the years?
Only two Arsenal players have scored a hat-trick against Spurs, and Alan Sunderland is one of them. Sunderland scored a wonderful hat-trick on the 23rd December 1978 against Tottenham, and his goals set the club on their way to a famous 5-0 win at White Hart Lane.
The victory gave the Gunners the perfect Christmas present and sent the Spurs fans into hiding. No Arsenal player managed to score more goals against Spurs than Sunderland, with his tally of eight only matched and never surpassed.
The former Arsenal striker endured a love-hate relationship with fans at the Emirates, but the North London derby was consistently a game that he made his mark in. He holds the record for the most goals scored in this fixture for Arsenal alongside Sunderland, while his two goals for Spurs makes him the outright top scorer in this fixture.
During his time with the Gunners, he scored in five consecutive North London derbies with Arsenal remaining unbeaten in all of them. He led the club to three wins and two draws. While he may remain a hated figure among fans, he was certainly an influential figure in this fixture for the Gunners.
It is hard to talk about the North London derby without talking about Sol Campbell. The England defender was branded ‘Judas’ when he walked away from the club and joined Arsenal on a free transfer. Campbell played a crucial role in the clubs history after signing in 2001, and his record in the derby for the club was second to none.
He never ended the fixture on the losing side after crossing the divide, and his decision to move to Highbury was vindicated as he won two Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the League Cup with the Gunners. He will be forever remembered as one of the greatest defenders to play for the club, and his performances in the derby to exemplify the difference he made to the club.
During Arsene Wenger’s reign at the Gunners he came up against a host of different Tottenham managers, but none of them saw as much tension as his meetings with Martin Jol. In the 2005-06 season, both sides were in a vicious battle to finish in the final Champions League place in the Premier League, and during a meeting in April 2006, the pair locked horns as things began to escalate off the pitch.
Jol’s actions would backfire as Thierry Henry would grab a late equaliser which would mean that Arsenal held the advantage in the race for fourth. On the final day, Spurs would lose to West Ham, while the Gunners beat Wigan Athletic, and that would succumb Tottenham to the embarrassment of finishing below Arsenal for another season. The Gunners have constantly gone into this fixture as the favourites to win with various online sportsbooks during the Premier League era. However recent seasons has seen the divide between the two cut and the 2019-20 fixtures could be the closest we have seen.