Arsenal played their first match against Tottenham Hotspur as far back as 1887. Spurs were denied a 2-1 friendly victory as the game was abandoned because of darkness. Over 120 years later, the comfier surroundings of the Emirates Stadium and White Hart Lane offer a white heat which lights up the North London derby.
Despite more than 120 years of history between both sides, the fierce competition between the two teams did not begin until 1913. That year saw Arsenal move from their South London home of Woolwich to Arsenal Stadium, Highbury, just four miles from Tottenham's White Hart Lane, thus becoming their nearest neighbours and creating a natural local rivalry.
This rivalry escalated further in 1919 when it was agreed that the First Division would be expanded by two teams. 19th-placed Chelsea, who would otherwise have been relegated, were allowed to stay. The final place should have been awarded to 20th-placed Tottenham, or Barnsley, who had finished third in the Division Two, but both missed out. Instead it was decided that Arsenal would be promoted, despite a fifth place finish in Division Two. Tottenham were promoted back into the top flight after taking the Second Division title the next season, and the fierce rivalry has continued ever since.
The most goals in one game were scored in the closely contested 5-4 Arsenal victory at White Hart Lane on 13 November 2004. The biggest winning margin was 6-0 to Arsenal on 6 March 1935, although Tottenham have twice won 5-0 (25 December, 1911 and 4 April 1983).
Early days and winning ways
Arsenal began life when workers at the Woolwich Arsenal Armament Factory formed a team in 1886. In 1891 the Club turned professional and changed its name to Woolwich Arsenal, joining the Football League in 1893.
Tottenham Hotspur, meanwhile, began life across the road from White Hart Lane in 1882. Players from the local cricket club and the local grammar school decided to start a club, naming themselves after the youngest son of the Duke of Northumberland, Percy, who went by the nickname of 'Harry Hotspur' - their hero, so Hotspur FC was born. Two years later they were renamed Tottenham Hotspur Football and Athletic Club and in 1885, 'Spurs' played their first competitive match. Ten years later, they turned professional.
Despite Arsenal's greater overall trophy haul, especially in the Wenger era, Spurs fans have always clung on to the 'Glory Game' notion characterised by Danny Blanchflower, the captain of Spurs during their double winning season of 1961.
He said: "The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It's nothing of the kind. The game is about glory. It's about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom." Certainly, the likes of Jimmy Greaves, Glenn Hoddle, Ossie Ardiles, Chris Waddle and Paul Gascoigne who have worn the Spurs' shirt with distinction testify to that claim.
Familiar faces and memorable matches
Perhaps due to the rivalry between the two clubs, there are only 11 players to have appeared for both clubs since 1913, although Terry Neill and George Graham have coached the north London rivals during their managerial careers. The two most notable names to cross the divide are Pat Jennings and Sol Campbell.
Legendary goalkeeper Jennings made 590 appearances for Spurs between 1964 and 1977. However, believing that his career was coming to an end, they sold him to their north London rivals. It was Arsenal who had the last laugh as the Northern Ireland international went on to play for another eight years. Jennings returned to Spurs as the club's goalkeeping coach.
One player who would find it difficult to make a similar return to White Hart Lane is Sol Campbell, the England defender. The boyhood Spurs fan refused to sign a contract with the club in 2001 and left on a Bosman-free transfer, claiming that he wanted to play UEFA Champions League football. The defender went on to win two English Premier League titles and three FA Cups with the Gunners, also scoring in the side’s defeat to Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final.
Two of the most memorable games in recent memory were FA Cup Semi-Final encounters in 1991 and 1993 respectively. At Wembley Stadium in 1991, Arsenal found the mercurial Gascoigne in inspirational form. After undergoing a double hernia operation, he had played just 60 minutes of football in the previous five weeks, but he rose to the occasion in tremendous style. A sublime 30-yard free-kick from the midfielder and a brace from Gary Lineker helped Spurs to a 2-1 victory in front of 80,000 fans.
Two years later, however, Arsenal got their revenge as a Tony Adams goal proved to be the difference between the two sides.
Whereas all those goals were scored by Englishman, the top scorer in the fixture is a Togolese forward. Emmanuel Adebayor crossed the divide via Manchester City and, after six goals in seven league games for Arsenal against Tottenham, also scored for Spurs in the two 2012 fixtures which saw the Gunners emerge 5-2 victors.
With so many stars on display in North London in the Premier League era, and a propensity for high scoring matches in recent times, it is unlikely any contemporary derby will be played in the dark.