Arsenal vs. Tottenham: 5 Key Matches in the History of the Rivalry

Charlie Melman@@charliemelmanCorrespondent IINovember 14, 2012

Arsenal vs. Tottenham: 5 Key Matches in the History of the Rivalry

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    There's always something special in the air during the week before a North London derby.

    Both Arsenal and Spurs fans know that there will be a high-scoring, thrilling and passionate game between two evenly-matched teams that cannot stop conceding when they play each other.

    Both fanbases know the historical significance of the derby, and both want more than anything else in the world to crush their rival on match day.

    For two teams that have, shall we say, struggled to win anything in recent years, this is one of the most important dates on the fixture list.

    For years, the rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham has not disappointed. Let's look back at five of the best relatively recent matches in the rivalry's history.

1991: Tottenham 3-1 Arsenal

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    Let's face it: Arsenal have dominated their crosstown rivals for some time. But on this day in 1991, Tottenham sealed one of their best ever victories over the hated Gunners.

    The scoring was opened by Paul Gascoigne, who ripped a thunderous 30-yard free-kick to send the Spurs supporters into ecstasy.

    A Gary Lineker tap-in was answered by Arsenal's Alan Smith, but Lineker scored a marvelous second to seal the game for Tottenham and secure their passage to the FA Cup final.

    They would win the cup a month later, the memory of their famous derby win etched firmly into their minds.

2004: Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal

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    There are few more ways in which this match could be more legendary.

    Chasing an unbeaten season, Jens Lehmann gave Tottenham a chance to win the game late by conceding a penalty that Robbie Keane duly converted to equalize.

    But at the end of a batty match that saw Arsenal squander a two-goal lead, the Gunners clinched the Premier League title on the soil of their most hated rivals and continued their ultimately successful quest for a zero-loss campaign.

    Celebrating an historic achievement in such a hostile environment must be an utterly intoxicating and unforgettable feeling.

2004: Tottenham 4-5 Arsenal

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    In arguably the craziest game ever played between the two sides, Arsenal and Tottenham furiously traded blows right up until the final minutes of the game.

    Most North London derbies are high-scoring affairs, but nobody expected a nine-goal epic at White Hart Lane that saw both sides throw all caution to the wind and express their true attacking natures.

    To realize the how utterly insane this match was, consider that the score was only 1-1 at halftime. The seven—seven—other goals were all scored during the second half.

    Whenever you thought this game was over, it delivered more twists and turns. Even a Robert Pires goal in the 81st minute could not help Arsenal see the game out comfortably; Frederic Kanoute struck the game's final blow seven minutes later to ensure the nerviest of finishes.

2010: Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham

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    Arsenal were sitting pretty near the top of the table when Spurs travelled to the Emirates Stadium in November, 2010. Tottenham had never won at the Emirates, so no problem for the Gunners, right?

    Well, it looked that way at halftime, when Arsenal had a comfortable 2-0 lead on their rivals, but, as they so often do, the Gunners collapsed and handed three points to their opponents.

    When Gareth Bale got one back shortly after the break, the wheels started to come off. Cesc Fabregas inexplicably threw his arm up to block Rafael van der Vaart's free kick in the penalty area, and Younes Kaboul capitalized on Arsenal's weakness from set-pieces to head home the winner.

    Cue madness in the blue half of North London and talk of a power shift.

2012: Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham

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    What was that I said in the last slide about a power shift? It was at the Emirates last season that Arsenal took the decisive step toward reclaiming their spot in the top four by overcoming Tottenham's 10-point lead.

    Down 2-0, the entire stadium was baying for Arsene Wenger's head. Humiliation against Arsenal's most bitter enemies would have been too much for a beleaguered fanbase to take. The Gunners' Internet fan world would have collapsed in on itself.

    Then, a bit of magic happened—a touch of the miraculous that only occurs in important derby matches.

    Arsenal scored five unanswered goals to emphatically drive their unwelcome visitors back to White Hart Lane in despair. What started with an emphatic Bacary Sagna header was finished with a bang by a Theo Walcott brace.

    The Gunners once again proved that no power shift was occurring north of the Thames.